Gardner takes on the liberal boos at town hall meeting in Colorado Springs

Author: Joey Bunch - August 15, 2017 - Updated: August 15, 2017

Cory GardnerRepublican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado speaks at a town hall as guests hold red “disagree” and green “agree” cards Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs. (James Woolridge, The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner sized up the crowd at his town hall meeting in in Colorado Springs.

“How many people here support single-payer” health care, he asked the a packed 400-seat auditorium at Pikes Peak Community College.

Maybe 80 percent of the hands in the room went up.

And the senator’s odds of getting his points across was defined in the instance. In sports, they’re called the boo birds, the songbirds of predictable disapproval.

“I’m trying to answer,” he said at one point. “But I don’t get the chance.”

Dressed in jeans with his shirt sleeves rolled up, Gardner gamed on, at one point asking the crowd to give him a chance to answer during one of several questions about he and his fellow Senate Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“This debate isn’t about taking something away from people that’s working,” Gardner said at the first of three town hall meetings Tuesday. “… This is about making this work.”

In a chat Tuesday morning with Colorado Politics before the 90-minute town hall meeting, he called socialized medicine a “$32 trillion disaster and will not work for our country and will not work for our treasury, and certainly will not work to improve healthcare.”

Gardner told his assembled critics he was willing to work on a bipartisan solution to stabilize the insurance markets, protect Medicaid and cover pre-existing conditions, but bipartisanship is a two-way street. Gardner noted that Democrats pushed through Obamacare in 2010 without a single Republican vote.

Gardner helped draft the original Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he voted for it on the floor, only to see it go down to defeat when his friend, Sen, John McCain, cast  the decisive vote to kill it last month.

Gardner said before the meeting health care is a heavy legislative lift, “because this is a very personal issue,” recalling the heath struggles of his mother, father and daughter. “We all have a personal connection.”

Health care was the powder keg in Colorado Springs, but Gardner and the liberals who packed the event had agreement, at least partially, on the egregious occurrences, including one death and multiple injuries, from the melee in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday.

Gardner said Sunday on national TV that President Trump erred in not calling out white nationalist by name, failing to call evil by its name, he said.

The president amended his remarks Monday.

“I’m glad the president has said that there is no room in this country for hate, bigotry and racism, neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists, that he will not tolerate,” he told Colorado Politics. “I wish he had said that earlier.”

But when an audience member asked later if President Trump was fit to serve because of his original remarks, Gardner said Trump was duly elected.

“I believe he is fit,” Gardner began, bringing on boos.

He added, “I take it nobody here voted for President Trump.”

On energy and the environment, Gardner repeated President Obama’s earlier call for an “all of the above” energy policy, which includes coal and fracking.

“I believe we have to have a mix,” he said.

And the boo birds again took flight.

The town hall  meeting on the Centennial Campus of Pikes Peak Community College was the first of three Tuesday for the congressman on his August recess.

Liberal activists have used “Cardboard Cory,” a cutout of the senator, as a stand-in to note “the senator’s lengthy public absence and to keep pressure on him to hold open, in-person town halls and events,” according to the liberal Indivisible Front Range Resistance.

Gardner has met with smaller groups often across the state, but on Aug. 4 a traditional town hall in Durango, which was supposed to provide an update on the Gold King Mine spill cleanup, turned into a showcase for protesters on health care, as well.

The senator from Yuma has two more town halls Tuesday:

  • Greeley
    Noon to 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 11)
    University School Auditorium
    6519 18th St.
  • Lakewood
    3:30 to 5 p.m. (doors open at 2:30 p.m.)
    Colorado Christian University, CCU Event Center
    8787 W. Alameda Ave.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


  • Tom Bailey

    August 15, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Good summary of this morning’s event that, sadly, only confirmed the sorry state of political discourse in America. The “boo birds” were not willing to let anyone (Sen Gardner or the few Republicans in the audience) say anything that they did not want to hear. And apparently they think that it’s a “lie” to say that the country simply cannot afford single payer health care, AND more Social Security, AND subsidies for “clean” energy, etc.

  • Charlie

    August 15, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Another example of the fascist left shouting down anyone with an opinion different from theirs.

  • Dan Olsen

    August 15, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    See, Cory Gardner! You will never please any of these idiots on the left, you will never get any of their votes no matter how “bi-partisan” you are trying to act. If you and your fellow RINO’s don’t start getting behind President Trump, you will find yourselves trying to find real jobs. You will have to earn my vote back.

  • Dorie

    August 16, 2017 at 12:02 am

    The Lakewood town hall was similar. The left in attendance were rude and simply there to disrupt. They need to under stand, they lost. If they want a change, I would suggest not putting up bad candidates like Hilary.

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