Gardner: My silence indicates you wanted me to deviate from pre-planned talking points. Bad constituent.
It's recess! Sure, it isn't all fun and games for Cory Gardner, but he has found plenty of time for Republican Party... um... parties. And of course at those parties he's able to stick to the script. In fact, regurgitating GOP talking points is exactly what those gatherings want to hear. He gets plenty of applause and in fact love him for sticking to those tried and true talking points, recycled from failed policies of the past.
But what about when he's at a town hall with people who have real questions or might actually disagree with him? From the new stories about Gardner's town halls I've seen (Thank you Google News Alerts), anyone who asks a slightly off-talking-point questions gets the same answer:
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First, there were the Libyan students at the Larimer County Courthouse, reported by the Coloradoan:
"Is the Libyan blood …" he (Mahdi Faraj Omar) said, choking back tears. "The Libyan blood is less expensive than oil. What's going on exactly?"
Abdelmalik Issa, a Libyan-American resident of Fort Collins, asked Gardner to support the Libyan protesters trying to take down Gadhafi.
"I'd like you, as a representative, as a part of the Congress, to mention these things," Issa said.
Gardner, a freshman Republican from Yuma, didn't respond to the requests from Omar or Issa at the town-hall meeting.
Then there's Allen Peacock in Longmont, who didn't like the GOP repealing the Affordable Care Act, reported by the Longmont Times-Call:
When it comes to health care, congressional Republicans in this year’s session have wasted time and taxpayers’ money on attempting to reverse last year’s act, Peacock charged.
Gardner thanked Peacock for his comments and said, “It’s great to live in a country where we can share differences of opinions.”
And on to Greeley, where Sharon Benson was upset at cuts to the Head Start program, reported by the New York Times:
In Greeley, many of the concerns among the roughly 60 people at the meeting were about education. “I get concerned hearing about throwing the baby out with the bathwater because we have the largest growing population of low-income children in the nation right here in Colorado,” said Ms. Benson, who works for Head Start. Mr. Gardner nodded, but moved on without giving her a response.
Ok, town halls are stressful. Maybe he does better getting his views out to the press on major national developments. Not so much, at least according to Denver Post Staff Writer Allison Sherry, who wrote an article on the broad lack of response from Colorado elected officials on the recent decision to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (The article says Rep. Lamborn responded even though he is currently overseas):
But the others? New Republican Reps. Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner chose not to weigh in.
Right. Not a lot of time to write that press release. Fair enough. Does Gardner's staff do better when people write letters? Apparently not, if you happen to read the letters to the editor page of the Greeley Tribune (again, thanks Google Alerts!":
Government health care OK for Congress:
...I contacted Rep. Cory Gardner’s office asking if Mr. Gardner would be accepting government health care. The person I spoke with said Rep. Gardner would get back to me via e-mail. I did receive an e-mail from Mr. Gardner, but he failed to answer my question.
What I got was basically a form letter response consisting of nothing more than Republican talking points. So I’m assuming our representative sees nothing wrong with government health care — for him and his family.
Wow. No response to even that question? It's been nearly a month since Gardner said he would not take the Congressional plan and continue to pay for his individual plan (which incidentally would offer more services and less hassle because of the Affordable Care Act, but he didn't point that out). That seems like an easy one to write talking points for, but it looks like Gardner couldn't even do that.
The only answers Gardner provides is to the questions he wants you to ask and he has a prepared statement to address.
Ask something slightly away from those talking points and all you'll hear are crickets.