Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, who's locked in a tight Senate battle with Obama rubber-stamp Mark Udall, has been pilloried with multiple rounds of attack ads falsely claiming that he supports outlawing birth control. Gardner's campaign responded in June with a direct-to-camera ad starring their candidate, which pivoted from addressing the birth control issue to assailing Udall's refusal to listen to constituents on Obamacare. Team Udall, obviously responding to focus group data and seeking to stretch a gender gap advantage, has kept pounding away on the issue. That's right, with the economy limping, the new healthcare law failing millions, and the world ablaze, Democrats are fixated on fictional Republican efforts to "ban" contraception. Rather than wishing the problem away, Team Gardner has released a second television ad; this one is more aggressive. It features Gardner in a town hall meeting setting, highlighting his support for making "the pill" available over-the-counter (OTC) to adult women:
"What's the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the country, 'round the clock, without a prescription -- cheaper and easier for you. Mark Udall...wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan...My plan means more rights, more freedom and more control for you. And that's a big difference."
While Udall runs ad after ad claiming that Gardner wants to restrict access to birth control, Gardner is actually proposing to expand access. Another difference between the two candidates is that Gardner doesn't support the Obama administration's aggressive lawsuits to force religious employers -- including Catholic nuns -- to pay for a product that explicitly violates the teachings of their faith. That's not extremism; that's mainstream respect for people's religious rights. Gardner's ad is a savvy and necessary move because it challenges his opponent's relentless attack head on. It also invokes Obamacare, which is quite unpopular in the state. Gardner himself joined the (growing) list of Coloradans who've been thrown off their existing plans by the new law, in violation of Democrats' repeated promises. Udall's staff pressured state officials to manipulate cancellation stats for political reasons. By the way, backing OTC contraception may be an idea that's gaining steam among Republicans who are weary of Democrats scaring young women with scurrilous, alarmist allegations. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal advanced the proposal in a 2012 WSJ op/ed, and Gardner followed suit in the Denver Post over the summer.