Smiling all the way to DC

Pundits couldn't explain Cory GardnerCory GardnerOvernight Defense: Senate rejects new FBI surveillance powers | Brexit vote looms | Push for new military aid deal with Israel Senators push vote to condemn Russia's 'reckless actions' Senate rejects gun control background check measures MORE’s smile or his unwavering optimism under fire in one of the most targeted seats in the nation. Opponents tried to paint a different picture through their War on Women rhetoric, but Gardner, with his cherubic smile, stayed positive.

Undeterred, the Udall campaign doubled down on the birth control and abortion focus. After all, similar campaign strategies had worked in 2010 when Ken Buck was ceremoniously dumped by unaffiliated women voters in a late attack alerting them to his “extremism.” Schaffer met a similar fate dished out by women voters in 2006.

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This campaign season was different; women were wiser. The frequency of War on Women ads in Udall’s near single-issue campaign made him appear obsessed. Everyone knew the campaign had “jumped the shark” when Denver Post columnist Lynn Bartels referred to his nickname as “Mark Uterus” during a televised debate. 

Denver Post columnist Krista Kafer in an August column added: “[Udall’s] narrow perception of women’s concerns is insulting. Surely there is something in his record regarding health care, foreign policy, environmental health, or the economy that he is proud of and can feature in an ad. Or perhaps he is planning on discussing these issues with just the guys.”

A meme was born.

Post-election poll and analysis by Colorado Women’s Alliance and Magellan Strategies confirmed our instincts; the War on Women political tactic was overdone. A majority of unaffiliated women polled believed women’s issues were discussed too much in the race. They were left wondering “what else you got?” Women care about a lot of issues and resent being treated as one-issue voters.

The negative drumbeat by the Udall’s campaign on women’s issues made the once affable Mark UdallMark UdallEnergy issues roil race for Senate Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium Two vulnerable senators lack challengers for 2016 MORE seem dour, especially as compared to the sunny, positive Gardner. The candidate likeability deficit diminished Udall’s support even among pro-choice, unaffiliated women, a quarter of whom broke for Gardner.

Unaffiliated women will continue to be the deciders in any election, and hopefully the War on Women tactic will be shelved. If we’ve learned anything, unaffiliated women expect more from candidates for elected office. Hopefully Udall and his political consultants will get the message. In the meantime, Colorado’s new U.S. senator will be smiling all the way to Washington, D.C.

From Debbie Brown, Colorado Women’s Alliance, and David Flaherty, Magellan Strategies, Greenwood Village, Colo.


Uighurs need US help 

The recent report by Voice of America of Uighur refugees stranded in Thailand, who are being offered asylum by Turkey, which in turn is aggressively rebuked by China, which demands all 200 Uighurs to be sent to China for prosecution, brings forward several significant questions regarding the refugee crisis, the status of Uighurs and the future of China as a new superpower.

The 200 Uighurs who have come to international attention in the last few days are part of the growing Uighur refugee problem in Southeast Asia, which greatly accelerated after the Urumqi ethnic riots that took place in July 2009. In different countries in Central and Southeast Asia there are an increasing number of instances of Uighur refugees caught and face the threat of being returned to China where they will certainly face criminal charges and mistreatment.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu offered for Thailand to send the Uighurs to his country, a move that angered China, which views their move to Thailand as "illegal immigration." 

Asked for a response on Turkey's offer, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the case was a matter for China and Thailand and "the relevant country" (i.e., Turkey) should stop interfering.

"We urge the relevant country to immediately stop meddling in placement work for the relevant case, be cautious with words and actions and not send out mistaken signals that connive in, and even support, illegal immigration activities," Hua said in a faxed statement to Reuters. "Illegal immigration activities disrupt the normal orderly flow of people internationally, harm the interests of the international community, and can harm security of the relevant countries and regions," Hua added. This sounds as a thinly veiled threat from "peaceful" China towards Turkey for opening its door to Uighur refugees.

U.S. should be raising the issue of Uighurs with Chinese government more often, as well as encourage governments of East Asian nations such as Thailand to live up to the international commitments and human rights treaties that it is a signatory to, and do the right thing: let these people go wherever they are most welcome, such as to Turkey. 

Turkey should also be commended — despite a humanitarian pressure in the form of nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, its own 1 million internally displaced persons and other problems, Turkey still opens its doors to refugees from far-flung countries. U.S. Congress should note that.

From Sibel Shinaishin, Vienna, Va.