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Colo. GOP Candidate Attempts To Soften Antiabortion-Rights Stance in Senate Race

Colo. GOP Candidate Attempts To Soften Antiabortion-Rights Stance in Senate Race

March 31, 2014 — Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) appears to be strategically softening his hardline conservative positions on abortion rights and other social issues as he pursues a Colorado seat in the U.S. Senate, Politico reports.

Gardner last month persuaded other Republican primary candidates to drop out of the race, ensuring that he could run unopposed and effectively "thrusting Colorado to the fore of his party's efforts to capture the Senate for the final two years of [President Obama's] presidency," according to Politico. Gardner is "one of a handful of candidates" in Democratic-leaning or politically divided states who hope to bolster the GOP's chances of winning the six Senate seats needed to take control of the chamber, Politico reports.

Race With Udall

Gardner faces incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). According to Politico, Udall is focusing on abortion rights and immigration to motivate voters, particularly women, and working to paint Gardner as an "ideological extremist."

Udall said in a recent interview, "The more that the voters of Colorado understand that Cory Gardner's [voting] record is out of the mainstream, the more they're going to be strongly supportive of rehiring me."

Gardner previously sponsored legislation in the House that would only permit abortion when a woman's life is in danger. However, he is now emphasizing times he supported antiabortion-rights legislation that would permit exceptions for rape and incest.

Although Gardner in 2010 supported a "personhood" amendment to endow rights beginning at fertilization -- which was rejected by 70% of Colorado voters -- he now says he opposes similar legislation because of concerns that it would block access to contraception.

According to Politico, Gardner essentially has to convince voters in the state that his conservative record on issues like abortion and immigration do not disqualify him "to lead one of the country's perennial bellwether states" (Raju, Politico, 3/27).