Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sen. Cory Gardner makes Colorado Springs appearance

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 11:33 AM

click to enlarge Sen. Cory Gardner, dressed in blue jeans, answered questions to a raucous crowd Tuesday morning at Pikes Peak Community College, with an assist from State Sen. Bob Gardner. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Sen. Cory Gardner, dressed in blue jeans, answered questions to a raucous crowd Tuesday morning at Pikes Peak Community College, with an assist from State Sen. Bob Gardner.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner held a town hall in Colorado Springs — finally, as one attendee yelled out — tuesday morning, and the room at Pikes Peak Community College's Centennial Campus was packed.

Gardner, who dodged speaking with voters in Colorado during the U.S. House and Senate's failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, got an earful from voters, dozens of whom held up red signs saying "disagree" or green signs saying "agree" when Gardner spoke.

They also hammered on what many in the audience said was the best solution: a single payer health system.

Gardner repeatedly said he opposes "socialized health care" and is ready to work with Democrats to find ways to bring health care costs down and make it more accessible through cheaper premiums and deductibles. He also acknowledged that Medicaid in some form should be preserved as a safety net, but said it shouldn't continue to grow.

Besides health care, which dominated the 90-minute town hall, Gardner fielded questions about North Korea, taxes and President Donald Trump.

One man asked, "Do you feel comfortable that Donald Trump is competent to lead the country?"

Gardner also repeated his previously made comments regarding the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that ended with one person dead and at least 19 injured. He called the Ku Klux Klan, national socialists and other groups "unacceptable."

"They're not part of this country, and we will not allow them to be a part of this country," he said.
click to enlarge There was no shortage of media for Gardner's appearance. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • There was no shortage of media for Gardner's appearance.
When Gardner then noted that "the people of this country elected Trump," the audience exploded in disapproval, shouting "No," and groaning.

But his next statement drew a bigger response when he said, "I believe he's fit but...." The blowback was so deafening, we couldn't make out the rest of his answer.

Later, Gardner drew shouts of disapproval when he was asked whether there's a connection between Trump and a build-up of hate in America. He sidestepped the question, instead saying, "When evil raises its head, we name it and call it what it is." He then lapsed into more instruction on getting along, saying more efforts need to be made to work together.

Another groaner response came when Gardner was asked about protecting the environment, notably through growth of renewable energy. Gardner led off his comment by saying coal has a place in America's energy portfolio — cue the shouts of disapproval — but that he also supports the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

A man who said he's a registered Republican expressed concerns about the party and oberved that "a good part" of the division that exists comes from "rhetoric of the White House," as well as Republicans' "hiding behind closed doors" in drafting bills. The upshot of the question — again, health care — prompted Gardner to again say, "I believe in the free market," which, again, drew groans and protests. Several shouted, "Medicare for all."

At one point Gardner lectured the crowd about being willing to listen to one another instead of shouting someone down with whom they disagree.

Several people who posed questions to Gardner said they'd either gone to his office or sent him letters, but weren't given a chance to meet with him or received a form letter in return.

Sitting in the back of the room was Mike Seely, a retired school psychologists who attended to hear Gardner "justify why he wants to give tax breaks to the wealthy."

After the meeting ended, Seely wasn't impressed. Asked what he thought, he said, "A lot of political bullshit and deception."

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