Sen. Cory Gardner clings to Trump as polls show both of them losing

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The Colorado Republican's support for Donald Trump is dragging down his chances at reelection

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said "yes" during a debate Tuesday in response to the question, "Do you believe that President Trump is a moral and ethical man?" showing that the GOP lawmaker still won't criticize Donald Trump, even as Trump is dragging down his chances at reelection.

Gardner's comment, which came during his final debate with the Democratic challenger for his Senate seat, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, was panned by columnists in the state.

Dave Perry, an editor at the Sentinel, said of Gardner's reply that Trump is "moral and ethical": "Besides Trump, no one can realistically believe he is."

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"If Gardner was being honest on Tuesday, telling all of Colorado that Trump behaves ethically in anything he does as president or in his personal life, then Gardner is either a stooge or as daft as Trump about how naive the American public is," Perry wrote.

He added: "If Colorado’s junior senator was just shooting from the lip on Tuesday to keep Trump from assassinating Gardner's political career from the Presidential Twitter account later that night, then he's just as unscrupulous and callow as Trump."

Gardner's support for Trump (he votes with Trump 89.1% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight) is dragging down his chances at reelection. Aside from saying that the serially lying Trump is moral and ethical, Gardner has also refused to condemn Trump for the pressure campaign he ran against Ukraine that ultimately ended up with Trump's impeachment by the House of Representatives. Gardner later voted to acquit Trump of the charges in the Senate.

Trump is toxic in Colorado, with polls showing him losing to Democratic nominee Joe Biden by nearly 13 points, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. If that holds, it would be a large increase in support for the Democratic ticket over 2016, when Hillary Clinton carried the state by 5 points.

Yet Gardner is still embracing Trump, vowing to vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, even though polls show voters want the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 3 to choose the replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In fact, sharing a ballot with Trump has made Gardner the most vulnerable Republican Senator up for reelection in 2020, according to Roll Call.

A new Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday found Gardner losing to Hickenlooper by 10 points, with Hickenlooper hitting 50%. That tracks with a 9NEWS/Colorado Politics poll from earlier this month showing Hickenlooper up 9 points.

The race has gotten little attention outside of Colorado this cycle, as nonpartisan political handicappers have viewed Gardner's chances of reelection as slim due to Trump's unpopularity in the state. Inside Elections predicts Gardner's seat will flip, rating the contest "tilts Democratic."

Gardner isn't the only Republican being dragged down by Trump's flailing reelection bid.

Sen. Susan Collins (ME) is facing her toughest reelection ever thanks to her ties to Trump, which she has demonstrated by backing Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and voting to acquit Trump of the impeachment charges he faced. As with Gardner, Inside Elections predicts Collins will lose her Senate seat.

Democrats need to pick up a net total of three Senate seats to win control of the chamber if Biden wins the election, as in that case the Democratic vice president be the tie-breaking vote in the chamber. If Biden loses, Democrats would need to net four seats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.