There was a lot of discussion about 10 days ago related to a controversial television ad put up by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) that attempts to damage Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper by (inaccurately) referencing the 2017 explosion of a home in Firestone that killed two people and severely wounded others. Erin Martinez, whose husband and brother were killed in the explosion, was incensed by the spot and demanded that the NRSC take it off the air.
Four days after Martinez reportedly called Sen. Cory Gardner to ask for his help in pulling the ad, Gardner finally returned that call and pretended to be equally dismayed that the spot was in heavy rotation on Colorado television stations. Gardner, who directed the NRSC during the 2018 campaign cycle, called for the ad to come down but insultingly claimed to Martinez that he didn’t have the “power” to get it taken off the air. A few days later, as Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reported on July 24, the NRSC eventually did make a change.
9News also confirmed that the NRSC was taking the ad off the air. At some point over the weekend, however, the NRSC decided to make ANOTHER change, putting the Firestone ad right back into its rotation in Colorado.
•@NRSC airs Hickenlooper attack ad ref: Firestone explosion
•Survivor asks for ad to be pulled
•Sen. Cory Gardner says he wouldn’t have run ad/hopes it’s taken down
•NRSC keeps it up, then said ads change weekly
•Ad replaced Friday, now back up half/half w/new ad#copolitics
— Marshall Zelinger (@Marshall9News) July 27, 2020
Days after Gardner himself asked for the ad to come down, the NRSC reluctantly swapped it out for a different spot. As Marshall Zelinger reports for 9News, the NRSC took the ad down on Friday…only to put it back up a day or so later.
This is pretty much the worst possible outcome for Gardner, who is theoretically supposed to benefit from television ads produced by the NRSC. When the Firestone ad first went on the air, Gardner had a couple of options: 1) Appear insensitive by not responding to calls from Erin Martinez to remove the ad; 2) Appear insincere by pretending to be powerless in the decision to air the ad; and/or 3) Appear incompetent and ineffective if the NRSC ultimately refused to take the ad down. By putting the same ad BACK on the air just a day or so after taking it down, the NRSC essentially awarded Gardner a fourth option: ALL OF THE ABOVE.
If the NRSC’s goal here was to make Gardner look like an asshole, then they succeeded spectacularly.