It's not so much the substance of this well-worn Democratic attack that makes it noteworthy, but the incandescent hypocrisy of the man who's attempting to benefit from it. You may have noticed that I've been devoting disproportionate attention to Colorado's US Senate race lately. Guilty as charged, and for good reason: It's one of the closest contests in the country, challenger Cory Gardner is running a strong campaign, and Sen. Mark Udall is one of President Obama's most unflinchingly reliable water carriers in all of Congress. As we noted last week, Gardner has released another TV spot directly responding to the millions of dollars in negative ads the Left has pumped at him, the bulk of which fixate on birth control and abortion -- distorting the Republican's position on each. This is the third ad in which Gardner sets the record straight on contraception (which has sent groups like Planned Parenthood into incoherent convulsions), before pivoting to the issues Coloradans care most about. "I support contraception," Gardner says. "It should be available over the counter, cheaper, and whenever you need it. They won't tell you that, and they won't talk about anything else. I think this campaign should aim higher:"
Team Udall has shot back with another 'war on women' ad, trying to justify their obsessive focus on so-called women's issues (while intentionally glossing over Udall's own extremism):
One 30-second spot, “Succeed”, answers the latest ad from Gardner’s campaign criticizing him for focusing so relentlessly on women’s reproductive health issues. “There’s a reason women and families are front and center in this campaign,” Udall says in the ad, in which he attempts to pivot to other issues of importance to women. “It’s not just about respecting every woman’s fundamental rights and freedoms. It’s that everyone deserves a fair shot at success…with affordable student loans, equal pay for women in the workforce and equal treatment when it comes to what men and women pay for their health care.”
You bet "there's a reason" Udall is relentlessly targeting women: If his gender gap advantage erodes, it's lights out for his candidacy. So he's saying whatever needs to be said, regardless of veracity, to frighten women about his opponent. One of the poll-tested items Udall raises in this commercial is "equal pay for women in the workforce." See, ladies? Mark Udall's on your side when it comes to fairness and equality, and all the other buzz words to which he expects you'll nod along. But actions speak louder than pandering. Over to you, public records -- via the Free Beacon:
The Free Beacon first reported on Udall’s gender pay discrepancy in April, noting that men on his staff receive an average of $9,783 more than women. A Watchdog.org analysis of salaries additionally found that on Gardner’s staff women make more money than men. There are also more full-time women staffers in his office than there are men.
Not only does Mark Udall pay women on his Senate staff nearly $10,000 less on average than men, Cory Gardner pays women more than men, and employs more women to boot. Indeed, Rep. Gardner's Chief of Staff, Communications Director and legal counsel are all female. As we've discussed on several occasions, the 'pay gap' issue is mostly manufactured, manipulative nonsense -- which the White House has implicitly acknowledged, even as the president forges ahead with his trademark demagoguery. But so long as cynical opportunists like Mark Udall insist on raising it to score points, they should be forced to lie in the bed they've made for themselves. Udall and Gardner are both members of Congress, so there's an apples-to-apples comparison to draw here. Udall employs fewer women than Gardner, and puts them in less influential positions. Udall pays his male employees almost ten grand more than their female counterparts, on average, while Gardner's "pay gap" actually favors women. If they can nail down these statistics as accurate, I hope the Gardner campaign clobbers Udall with a response ad that fixes a bright spotlight on these disparities. Executed properly, it could be hugely embarrassing to the incumbent. "Mark Udall's single-issue campaign continues to try to scare people. His latest ad demands equal pay for women [roll clip]. Well, since you brought it up, Senator…" Punch him hard on this stuff. He's literally asking for it by touting his support for "equal pay." Also, for what it's worth, the Udall campaign has also launched a response ad on national security, pushing back against criticisms of Udall's statement in an untelevised debate that ISIS doesn't pose an imminent threat to the United States. The Democratic incumbent is hyper-attuned to national security issues, you see, and he's got the dated, recycled stock footage to prove it:
Text appears on the screen touting Udall’s support for the current U.S. campaign of air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The “b-roll”, or stock footage, used in the ad showing Udall meeting with veterans groups, appears to be the same as that used in another Udall TV ad from his campaign six years ago.
Oops. Udall could use free airtime to respond to any and all of these critiques during a statewide televised debate -- if only he'd abandon his historic refusal to do so.