Politics

Pro-Cory Gardner Ad Mistakes Grand Canyon for Colorado

A recent ad for Senator Cory Gardner begins with a shot of a grand canyon. Make that the Grand Canyon.
A recent ad for Senator Cory Gardner begins with a shot of a grand canyon. Make that the Grand Canyon. Photo by Brandon Marshall/ADMO Creative Alert
With election day on November 3, campaign ads will finally come to an end — for this cycle, anyhow. And that's good news for U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, who's seen material pushing his candidacy denounced as racist and attacked by the family of a former president. But the funniest gaffe on his behalf — a video that mistakes one of America's most famous national parks for Colorado — may turn out to be the worst sign of all.

Last week, a series of Colorado Republican Committee fliers touting Gardner over Democratic opponent John Hickenlooper were attacked for demonizing Reverend Promise Lee, a prominent Colorado Springs religious leader and criminal-reform advocate who's also serving as spokesperson for the family of De'Von Bailey, who was fatally shot in the back while fleeing from a Colorado Springs Police Department officer in August 2019.

Then, over the weekend, three of John F. Kennedy's family members attacked Gardner for using footage of the late leader as a way of hyping his own record on the environment. Kerry Kennedy tweeted: "How dare you @CoryGardner misuse and abuse the memory of Uncle Jack in this grossly misleading advertisement? You have supported Trump's decimation of the EPA and fueled global warming. You are a disgrace."

Predictably, these ads continue to run; CBS4 Denver aired one this morning.


And then there's a pro-Gardner clip financed by an organization known as ESAFund (formerly the Ending Spending Action Fund). The ad (click here) begins with the lines, "Colorado's greatest natural resources are our people. Our land." But these words are paired with an image not from the state he represents, but from Arizona. It's a little place called the Grand Canyon.

The shot was first noticed by James Owens, onetime press secretary for Senator Mark Udall, whom Gardner defeated in 2014. On Twitter, Owens shared the photo above and the following observation: "Pro-Gardner ad 'Delivering for Colorado' gushes about 'our people, our land' — but opens on a shot of the Grand Canyon. Not how you win in #COsen!"

The photo definitely looked like the Grand Canyon to us, but we wanted to make sure — so we reached out to Joelle Baird, spokesperson for Grand Canyon National Park. It's the Grand Canyon, all right, Baird confirms.

Neither Gardner nor his representatives have responded to requests for comment from Westword in years, but we reached out about the ad, anyway. No response.

Turns out the error is part of what's becoming a grand tradition in Colorado GOP politics — one that's come full circle. Way back in 2009, we wrote about Scott McInnis, gubernatorial candidate and former Republican Congressman, launching a new website whose home page paired the question "What do you want for the future of Colorado?" with a photo of Lake Louise, a resort community in Canada.

The previous year, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Bob Schaffer had aired an ad in which Pikes Peak was played by Alaska's Mount McKinley.

Schaffer ultimately came up short in 2008 to none other than Mark Udall, and McInnis failed to take the governorship in 2010, too. Indeed, he didn't even win the primary, falling to Dan Maes, who wound up losing to, you guessed it, Hickenlooper.

Apparently, geography matters.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts