Colorado D.C. Roundup: Charlottesville Reactions And Gardner's Town Halls

Aug 18, 2017

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation had a busy week this week -- despite that they’re still on recess. One of the most active has been Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who held his first in person town hall meetings in more than a year. It was a week was defined by the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va., and a national debate over race, especially in light of President Trump’s response.

Condemnation for white supremacist rally

Colorado’s congressional delegation widely denounced the deadly rally on Aug. 11 and 12. Many took to Twitter to condemn the actions of white supremacists and the death of anti-racism activist Heather Hayer.

Gardner was quick to criticize President Trump over what he saw as a poor initial response. In his initial remarks on the event, Trump said that “many sides” were to blame for the violence. 

“Mr. President - we must call evil by its name,” Gardner said in a tweet. “These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

He doubled down on his opinion during three town hall meetings he held on Tuesday.

“I will tell you this, those assholes can go back to their cave, we don’t want them in this country,” Gardner said to a cheering crowd in Greeley.

Other responses were similar.

“White supremacists are ignorant and hateful,” wrote Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican, on Twitter. “All Americans must unite against racial intolerance and bigoted ideology.”

"The KKK, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacists and Nationalists are abhorrent,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican, in a statement. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong."

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver followed up on her condemnation of Trump by co-sponsoring a resolution to censure the president for his remarks. The resolution seeks to “censure and condemn President Donald Trump for … his failure to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism.”

It also urges Trump to “fire any and all” advisors who many have ties to the alt-right movement, such as advisor Steven Miller and strategist Steve Bannon.

An attendee at Sen. Cory Gardner's town hall on Aug. 15 in Greeley.
Credit Joshua Polson / The Greeley Tribune

Gardner holds first solo town halls of year

During events in Colorado Springs, Greeley and Lakewood, Gardner fielded questions from rambunctious crowds on education, immigration and North Korea. Most of the attendees cited  health care as their primary concern.

Responses to the town hall in Greeley were mixed.

“No, I don’t think he answered questions well at all,” said Kaea Beresford from Greeley.

Another Greeley resident, Daryl Oster, said that he found Gardner’s composure commendable.

“I’m very impressed with Gardner taking on the organized hecklers,” he said.

“I think these questions are really complex,” said Judy Marchino of Longmont. “It’s very difficult in three minutes or five minutes to respond.”

Julie Blehm of Greeley found the town hall important, even if she didn’t get much from Gardner.

“I don’t believe he answered the questions very well, but for me, I was very heartened to feel like I wasn’t alone in a city that is known for kind of more conservative people,” she said. “So for me, it was empowering.”

Five years of DACA

DeGette and her fellow representatives Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis, both Democrats, recognized five years of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. In a series of tweets, Polis drew attention to “Dreamers” present in Colorado.

“#DACA has transformed the lives of thousands of young people in Colorado,” wrote Polis. “#Dreamers contribute to our communities and economy.”

Focus on climate change

Polis and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, each attended events this week on climate change. At Colorado State University, Polis hosted a forum with several scientists where he was critical of the Trump administration.

“Of course, there’s still folks who need to catch up and read the latest science, and unfortunately some of those folks are actually in the current presidential administration,” Polis said to laughter from the audience. “But for the most part, for the most part, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how.”

Bennet was at an event hosted by the Aspen Institute on clean energy innovation.

More upcoming events and town halls

DeGette has a Facebook Live event scheduled for Aug. 22 where she will take questions from the public.

Perlmutter has a “Government in the Grocery” event scheduled for Sept. 9 in Northglenn.

Polis has five events scheduled for the rest of August:

  • Aug. 20, town hall in Vail
  • Aug. 20, town hall in Conifer
  • Aug. 26, town hall in Berthoud
  • Aug. 26, town hall in Fort Collins
  • Aug. 26, town hall in Wellington