GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (AP) — As Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner's reelection campaign moves into general election mode, he is getting an assist from the White House.
Ivanka Trump wound up two days in Colorado on Friday with a child care roundtable in Greenwood Village, where she repeatedly praised Gardner, who was sitting next to her.
The day before, she and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt journeyed to Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate the passage of a bill Gardner wrote to fund maintenance on federal lands.
"Thank you, Senator Gardner, you have been a real force in the U.S. Senate for these issues," Ivanka Trump said at the roundtable, held outside Bright Beginnings day care. She added that his national park legislation was "monumental."
It's common for incumbent administrations to send officials to buttress members of their party facing tough elections, and Gardner certainly qualifies. He won his Senate seat by less than 2 percentage points in 2014.
Since then, Democrats have won every major statewide election in Colorado as the state's college-educated voters have increasingly turned against the Trump administration.
Gardner faces former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, in November. Even before Hickenlooper was formally made the nominee on June 30 Gardner's campaign and national Republicans were airing ads slamming him.
Last week, Republicans launched an ad blaming Hickenlooper for a deadly 2017 gas explosion. The widow of the man killed in the incident, Erin Martinez, asked that it be taken down. This week, Gardner called for the ad to stop, and Republicans eventually replaced it with a spot slamming Hickenlooper over a ruling that he violated state ethics laws as governor.
Hickenlooper's campaign, meanwhile, has been slamming Gardner repeatedly as the GOP-controlled Senate has stalled for two months on a new coronavirus relief package.
"While hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are relying on Senator Gardner to extend unemployment insurance they're counting on to get by, Gardner instead posed for pictures with President Trump's daughter," Eli Rosen, a spokesman for Colorado's Democratic Party, said in a statement.
Speaking to reporters after the roundtable, Gardner said he thought Congress needed to move on coronavirus legislation.
"It needs to get done now," Gardner said, noting he's also sponsoring a bill to create a national testing program for the disease.