A strange thing happened Friday. The daily barrage of social issues press memos from the campaign to re-elect Colorado Sen. Mark Udall came to a halt. Instead, all we received was a presser about Udall supporting "Colorado Sportsmen."
Maybe Udall finally gets it. Few believe the pretense of a Republican war on women. The message was at first a waste of money and time. Now, it has backfired.
On the average day for the past several months, Udall's campaign has produced multiple statements with each mentioning his support of "birth control," "contraception" and/or "abortion" a dozen times or more. They did not come from 527s or other outside groups, but directly from the campaign. One might think Roe v. Wade hadn't been decided 41 years ago. Or that women had no other pressing concerns.
The single-issue campaign became downright embarrassing for Udall on Tuesday when the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels, arguably the dean of Colorado's political press corps, asked him during a debate whether he took the whole social issues thing a bit too far.
"Mr. Udall, your campaign has been so focused on women's issues that you've been dubbed 'Mark Uterus,'" Bartels said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
Bartels wrote in September: "If Colorado's U.S. Senate race were a movie, the set would be a gynecologist's office..."
Thursday brought a scathing indictment of Udall's campaign by feminist Kimberley A. Strassel — co-author of the book "Leaving Women Behind" and a member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board. Strassel's article explained how Democrats have blown most of their time and energy this campaign reciting the worn-out narrative they hoped would convince women to believe Republican candidates might confiscate birth control and outlaw abortion. All over the country, she said, polling shows the tactic failing. Voters consider it "gender pandering" and see right through it. In Colorado, she wrote, "Mr. Udall and his allies have beaten the 'war on women' drum harder than any campaign" in the country.
If Udall's campaign offends Bartels, she may not be alone among ranking staffers at the Post. Friday, the Post's moderate-left editorial board endorsed Udall's challenger, conservative Republican Rep. Cory Gardner.
"Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision," the Post explained. "His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince."
Most women and men care deeply about reproductive rights. They simply don't believe Republicans will confiscate them. Strassel cited a recent scientific poll of Colorado women that found 77 percent listed one of the following as their top public policy concerns: the economy, health care, immigration, energy. Only 16 percent listed "abortion."
If Gardner wanted to set a trap for Udall, he could not have done better than steering him into this frivolous crusade. Meanwhile, Gardner has argued a need for less-regulated, over-the-counter birth control. Mostly, he has spoken respectfully and candidly to women and other voters about the economy, health care, immigration and energy — issues affecting all Coloradans, including women in their reproductive years.
That's why The Gazette and The Post say it's best to vote for Gardner, installing in the Senate a young and vibrant leader with new ideas and a track record of positive results.