Sen. Gardner Makes Plea For Civility After His Wife Receives A Disturbing Text

"This is not who we are."

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner made a heartfelt plea for more civility last week after his wife was sent a threatening video.

Gardner, a Republican, shared on Twitter last week that his wife Jaime had received a graphic video of a beheading via text. The text message was sent to her right before Gardner voted on the controversial confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a high stakes flashpoint in an increasingly bitter political arena.

In an email exchange with A Plus, Gardner said that his wife is "tougher than me" and the two of them are making sure their three children understand that they are safe and protected, despite the alarming video clip.

"It sickens me that she got that," Gardner wrote of the texts. "It sickens me that anyone on any issue or political background would get violent threats. If somebody wants to throw political attacks at me for taking this stand, that's fine. I hope they will realize that a bright line has been crossed when those attacks call for violence, murder and people's families with graphic, gruesome videos."

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After his wife received the text, Gardner took to the social platform to criticize officials who he sees as contributing to the spread of incivility. 

"We now have public officials saying you should be uncivil to each other," Gardner tweeted. "You have other party leaders saying Michelle Obama was wrong when she said 'when they go low we go high.' But rather when they go low 'we kick them.' This is not who we are."

Gardner, who a D.C.-based think tank once ranked as the eighth most bipartisan senator, pointed to his strong relationship with Sen. Michael Bennett, a Democrat and fellow Coloradan, as an example of how people can work across the aisle. 

Some observers on Twitter were critical of Gardner because his tweets referenced remarks made by former Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, but said nothing of President Donald Trump — who many consider to be a model of incivility. In the days since his tweet storm, Republicans have been criticized for "incivility" of their own. On Oct. 13, Pennsylvania's Republican candidate for Senate Scott Wagner advised his opponent to put a catcher's mask on because "I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes."

"We can all do a better job practicing civility," Gardner said when asked why he did not mention Trump in his tweets. "Including me. Including the president. I didn't call out anyone by name in my tweetstorm because I want to encourage us coming together – not pointing fingers at others. There are things I agree with the president on and things I don't. I'll always speak out on them when I need to. Just like all of us. My message of civility was not for one person – but for this nation."

Gardner does have plenty of experience working across the aisle. Along with Bennett, Gardner pointed to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as someone he appreciates collaborating with. It's an unlikely match considering the two disagree on just about every major issue, Gardner said. But he described Warren as a "good friend" and a "colleague who I've proven I can work with." Together, Gardner and Warren authored the STATES Act, a piece of legislation that promises the federal government won't crack down on marijuana sales in your state as long as those sales are being conducted legally.

Those collaborative experiences might explain why Gardner is making a public push for more civility: he's seen how being civil with colleagues you disagree with can increase productivity in our government, making it function better. References to violence — like the text message depicting a beheading — certainly seem contrary to the idea of a more collaborative, open chamber.

"I'm confident our nation will start to come together because I know that's what we all want," Gardner told A Plus. "I love this country, and I'm honored to represent a state full of incredible people. When my wife received the threat, we heard from friends, strangers, Democrats, and Republicans. That tells me a lot right there. We all want to return to civility – we just need to do it now."

Cover image via Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

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