In Front Of Conservative Crowd, Sen. Gardner Lays Into Democratic Agenda

Western Conservative Summit Cory Gardner
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado’s Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner speaks to the Western Conservative Summit at the Colorado Convention Center on Friday evening July 12, 2019.

Colorado’s Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, criticized Democrats for normalizing socialism and pulling the country farther to the left during his keynote speech at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver Friday night. Later in the evening, Donald Trump Jr. also addressed the crowd.    

One major theme of the night was the claim that Democrats aren’t tolerant. 

“If you disagree with the far left, you are a racist. If you disagree with their ideology, you don't care about your neighbors and your community,” Gardner said. “Just look at a few of the examples for the last few weeks. Since when did wearing the Betsy Ross flag become akin to wearing a swastika? Since when did the American flag become a symbol of division? Since when did men and women in law enforcement trying to protect our borders and keep Americans safe become Nazis running concentration camps?”

Gardner is seen as one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents in the 2020 election cycle, running for reelection in a state that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and trended even more blue in 2018. More than 10 Democrats are already vying for the chance to unseat him

In his speech, Gardner touted his rural roots and the “hard working men and women who don't deserve to be looked down upon because of where they live or what they believe.” 

Defending religious freedom is the theme of this year’s summit, and it’s a topic Gardner touched on. 

“The attack on faith is a second front in the attack on freedom, and silencing conservative voices is just one of their plans… to enact a radical socialist agenda,” said Gardner. “Just take a look at the Green New Deal. The left knows it isn't popular, but they continue to advocate for it anyway. And when you look at it closer, you'll see that it's nothing more than a very thinly veiled attempt to implement the socialist agenda, to fundamentally change this country to gain control of the energy we use, the technology that we create, what car we drive, and what job you can or cannot have.” 

In a response to the speech, Colorado’s Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll said Gardner supports President Donald Trump’s “toxic agenda” and needs to be voted out of office.  

“While Senator Gardner hasn’t held a town hall with the Coloradans he supposedly represents in nearly two years, he is right at home in a room full of fringe Trump supporters,” wrote Carroll in a statement. “That’s because Gardner’s record lines right up with Trump’s destructive agenda: passing huge tax breaks for billionaires while threatening health coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions.” 

The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University organized the annual event. The speakers lasted late into the night on Friday, ending with Donald Trump Jr. He attacked Democrats for what he called a failure to back the country’s best interests.  

“The reality is the left hates Trump much more than they love America. Because they would much would rather see America fail with him at the helm, than it succeed.”

Western Conservative Summit Trump Jr.
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Donald Trump Jr. speaks Friday evening July 12, 2019, to a packed ballroom at the Western Conservative Summit at the Colorado Convention Center.

The president’s son said the most important thing he’s seen from his father’s administration is “trying to bring common sense to D.C. Because that doesn’t exist. Common sense has disappeared.” 

Trump also blasted social media companies for targeting conservatives and the mainstream media for being the “political arm of the left.” 

“You have an American president with the greatest economic track record in modern history that gets 97 percent negative coverage from the press," Trump Jr. said. 

There was one notable difference at this year’s summit. Conservative attendees found an unexpected name on the agenda Friday morning: Democratic Gov. Jared Polis. It was the first time a Democratic elected official has ever agreed to speak at the right-leaning political gathering. He received a largely warm reception as he talked about inclusiveness and his personal Jewish faith. The Summit continues through Saturday.