Republican Senate nominee Cory Gardner (R-CO) has been working hard to shed his extreme right-wing past in recent months, adopting several new policy stances to appeal to the more moderate Coloradan electorate. A new ad released Tuesday touts his support for over-the-counter birth control access and suggests Gardner is even more pro-contraception than his Democratic opponent.
“What’s the difference between me and Mark Udall on contraception? I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock, without a prescription — cheaper and easier, for you,” Gardner says in the ad. “Mark Udall’s plan is different. He wants to keep government bureaucrats between you and your healthcare plan. That means more politics, and more profits for drug companies. My plan means more rights, more freedom, and more control for you — and that’s a big difference.”
Udall has pointed out that while over-the-counter birth control is a good idea to expand access, it must still be covered by insurance. Some experts say the new Republican push to move it over the counter is an attempt to undercut Obamacare’s contraception coverage guarantee.
Gardner first announced his support for over-the-counter access in a Denver Post op-ed in June, in an apparent attempt to set himself apart from “too many Republicans [who] are afraid to break the mold.” In a similar vein, his campaign released an ad Monday in which Gardner, a climate change denier, uses a wind farm as a backdrop to express his support for alternative energy sources.
But Gardner’s extreme right-wing record has been hard to shake. He’s had to disavow his support for the Colorado “personhood” measures that would have banned abortion and some forms of contraception. As a member of Congress, he voted against measures to require insurance companies to cover birth control and to allow pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception. He’s also stood against a bill to help poor women on Medicaid to get birth control.
Republican candidates all over the country are trying to dispel the party’s anti-woman image, through training sessions on how to avoid offensive statements, PR firms. In Colorado, Republicans even held a woman-specific forum with the dubious theme of “The Dating Game.” The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has also complicated Republicans’ pitch to women voters. A majority of female voters say they won’t vote for candidates who back Hobby Lobby in their quest to drop coverage for contraception. More than half of Colorado women opposed the ruling.