Republican group slams GOP senator as 'weak' and 'terrified' of Trump

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The Lincoln Group, which aims to defeat 'Trumpism,' has criticized Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner in its latest ad.

The Lincoln Group, a high-profile group of anti-Trump Republicans, released a scathing ad on Monday lambasting Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) for his unwavering support of Donald Trump.

"Why are you losing? Why do the polls show you headed for humiliating defeat in November?" the ad asks.

An image of a poll showing Gardner trailing former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper by 13 points flashes across the screen.

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The ad then claims Gardner is "just another Trump servant: Weak. Frightened. Impotent. A small man terrified of a political bully."

The ad complains that Gardner will "do anything Trump orders," especially as it relates to the upcoming Senate impeachment trial. The group accuses Gardner of "blocking witnesses, stonewalling to keep Trump's corruption secret, breaking [his] oath to follow the Constitution and the law."

The ad states that "Colorado voters want a fair trial in the Senate, and honest leadership." It ends with a warning to Gardner: "Either do your job, or Colorado will find someone who will."

The Lincoln Group was formed and is led by several high-profile Republicans who spent the past few decades supporting various Republican candidates.

One of the group's members, Steve Schmidt, worked for former President George W. Bush and the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Another, George Conway, is a conservative lawyer who has publicly claimed Trump allegedly suffers from mental health issues so serious that he is unfit to serve as president. (Conway is married to top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway.)

According to its website, the Lincoln Group's mission is to defeat "President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box" in 2020, adding that "electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort."

Gardner has been one of Trump's top supporters in the Senate, going so far as to endorse Trump's 2020 reelection campaign in January 2019.

He has faced criticism in Colorado for avoiding the press, supporting the Trump administration's effort to take money meant for military families to build a border wall, and for refusing to support popular gun safety measures.

However, Gardner has largely remained silent on the issue of impeachment, and is rumored to be one of a handful of Senate Republicans who may split with the rest of the party as Trump's trial approaches, joining Sens. Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), and Mitt Romney (UT) to vote to call witnesses, according to senior White House officials who spoke to CBS News on Monday. Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN) and Rand Paul (KY) may also defect to join the group.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already admitted that he will not be impartial in that trial and will coordinate Trump's defense with the White House. McConnell has refused to say whether or not witnesses will be allowed to testify, although the majority leader would need the support of 51 senators in order to block all witnesses from testifying.

Gardner and the other Republican senators who are reportedly planning to vote to call witnesses could threaten McConnell's blockade.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, meaning Gardner — who faces reelection in November — could cast a critical vote on whether or not witnesses are allowed to be heard.

Trump is facing trial on two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from his alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is vying to be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.

At the moment, several Democrats are vying to replace Gardner, with former Gov. Hickenlooper leading in polling and fundraising. Hickenlooper entered the race after briefly running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and then exiting when he failed to gain much traction.

Election experts regularly identify Gardner as one of the most vulnerable members of the Senate. Gardner won his senate seat in 2014, but voters in the state have steadily rejected Republicans in the years since. In 2016, the state backed Hillary Clinton over Trump, and in 2018 elected Democrats to every statewide office as well as a majority in both legislative chambers.

As the poll in Monday's ad noted, Gardner faces an uphill battle if this trend continues through November.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.