Democratic senator Mark Udall of Colorado appears in a new TV ad targeting Republican congressman Cory Gardner for his opponent's "beyond troubling" record on birth control and abortion. "Because this really matters, it's important you hear this directly from me," says the Colorado Democrat at the beginning of the 30-second spot. "My opponent, Congressman Gardner, led a crusade that would make birth control illegal, sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, even in cases of rape and incest."
The ad features images of women and a young girl. Watch it below:
Udall's attack comes as the first-term Democrat is in a statistical dead heat with Gardner in what's become a true toss-up race.
But how does the criticism hold up? Udall's claims that Gardner is an extremist on abortion and birth control all stem from the so-called personhood bill and ballot initiative Gardner said he supported back before he was elected to Congress in 2010. The amendment would have defined personhood as any fertilized egg and would have effectively banned all abortions and could have banned some forms of birth control—except that Coloradans voted against the ballot initiative in 2010. Personhood laws are controversial even within the pro-life movement, with several national groups like National Right to Life opposing them as unnecessary or extreme measures.
So about Gardner's "crusade" against birth control and abortion. Gardner is unabashedly pro-life and has supported efforts in Congress to make late-term abortions against the law, with all the usual exceptions. But he has said that he changed his mind about personhood after learning that, in fact, such proposals would ban forms of contraception. And while in the state house of representatives in 2007, Gardner co-sponsored an anti-abortion bill that specifically permitted the sale and use of contraception. It's a position that puts him not only within the mainstream of the Republican party but also the mainstream of American politics when it comes to the late-term abortion ban.
Udall ends the ad with a libertarian, live-and-let-live appeal. "You have the right to live life on your own terms, to make your own choices," he says. But part of the reason the race between Udall and Gardner is so close (the latest non-partisan poll shows Udall with a one-point lead) is an issue having to do with "making your own choices": Obamacare. Udall voted for the law and has continued to support it, but the law is very unpopular in Colorado.
Update: Gardner is up with his own ad in response, which focuses on Udall's support for Obamacare: