What you missed in the final Colorado U.S. Senate debate between Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper ~ The Colorado Sun

Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner participates in the final debate in the 2020 race for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.

The Republican incumbent declared Roe v. Wade “settled law” as his Democratic rival expressed concern about packing the Supreme Court 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he believes the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade protecting a woman’s right to an abortion and a ruling affirming a same-sex couple’s right to marriage are settled law.

“Both cases are settled law … and that precedent should be respected,” Gardner said.

The Republican incumbent’s comments in the final U.S. Senate debate Tuesday came even as he labeled himself “pro-life” and expressed support for a 2020 ballot measure in Colorado that limits abortions by prohibiting the procedure after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

His Democratic rival, John Hickenlooper, once again refused to directly answer a question about whether he supported expanding the size of the Supreme Court to lessen the influence of Republican appointees. The former governor previously said he was “open” to the move but allowed that he’s not a fan of the concept. “I don’t like the idea of court packing,” he said.

“I think if you get new people in Washington, you won’t have to do that kind of institutional change,” he added.

The debate’s focus on the Supreme Court came the same day that President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, faced questions about her views on abortion and court precedents at a confirmation hearing in Washington. https://www.youtube.com/embed/a4YOU4bikXE?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

Gardner supports the Republican-led U.S. Senate’s efforts to fill the court vacancy days before the election, despite the fact that he took the opposite stance when President Barack Obama nominated a pick in 2016. Hickenlooper said the chamber’s leaders should instead focus on passing additional coronavirus relief and economic stimulus legislation, rather than working to “rush through this Supreme Court nomination.”

The two candidates delineated clear differences on a range of issues in the hour-long televised debate hosted by 9News, Colorado Politics and The Coloradoan at the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. 

The contest is key to determining which party will control the U.S. Senate, and earlier in the day, a newly released Morning Consult poll showed that Hickenlooper held a 10 percentage point advantage against Gardner, 50% to 40%, according to the survey conducted Oct. 2-11.

A month ago, just before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, a poll from Morning Consult found the race at a statistical tie with Hickenlooper at 46% and Gardner at 44%. But the newer numbers show Ginsburg’s death only galvanized support for the Democrat. 

Jessica Taylor, a national analyst at the Cook Political Report, said Ginsburg’s death and the Supreme Court vacancy “sends people to their partisan corners.” She said the abortion issue is one that positions Gardner “really far and away from where Colorado voters are.”

“Clearly Colorado is a state that is moving away from Republicans — we saw that in 2018 and 2016 as well, and on social issues it’s far more progressive,” said Taylor, who spoke at an election forum hosted by the University of Denver’s Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research ahead of the debate.

Here’s a look at the other battle lines in from the final debate before the Nov. 3 election: 

The debate began with Gardner and Hickenlooper tussling over coronavirus and the federal response to the pandemic. 

Hickenlooper accused Gardner of not making the passage of a new stimulus package a priority, instead focusing on pushing through Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “Cory can just say I will not vote to support this thing — this Supreme Court nominee — if indeed the relief act doesn’t get passed first,” he said. 

Then Gardner criticized Hickenlooper for not supporting a scaled-back aid bill put forward by Senate Republican leaders last month. “We can’t afford to have someone who refuses to support the people of Colorado in the Senate,” Gardner said. 

Hickenlooper has said the legislation didn’t go far enough and wasn’t a real effort at helping Americans weather COVID-19. But then he said he supported a scaled-back bill not loaded down with partisan amendments, saying Republicans and Democrats are at fault for the gridlock.

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