Those showers John Hickenlooper took with his clothes on a decade ago are back on the air again this year, this time in an ad from Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner slamming his Democratic opponent for attacking Gardner's response to the pandemic.
A TV ad Gardner released Wednesday features footage from a 2010 Hickenlooper ad that depicted the then-gubernatorial candidate repeatedly drenching himself while fully dressed to demonstrate his dislike of negative ads.
It's the latest ad about an ad in the pivotal Senate race, which could determine which party holds the majority after the November election. Hickenlooper has led Gardner in every publicly available poll, though the Democrats' lead has tightened in recent surveys.
Andrew Romanoff, Hickenlooper's primary opponent, resurfaced Hickenlooper's "shower" ad this summer in an ad that urged Hickenlooper to "scrub harder" as Romanoff ticked off a litany of complaints about his rival.
Hickenlooper's longstanding pledge not to run negative ads — a key element of the popular former two-term governor's image — is all wet, Gardner charges in his new 30-second spot.
"Now, it’s Hickenlooper who’s running nasty ads," Gardner says. "He even attacks me for going fishing. Desperate."
Adds Gardner: "You and I may not always agree, but I stay true and work hard for Colorado."
The Republican is referring to an ad Hickenlooper released earlier this month that criticized Gardner for shrugging off a commitment he made in May to push for COVID-19 relief legislation before the Senate recessed several times this summer, including a month-long break in August.
"Cory Gardner's on vacation, still silent about Donald Trump's failure on COVID," says the narrator of Hickenlooper's earlier ad over footage culled from another Gardner ad showing the senator holding a fishing rod.
CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd faulted Hickenlooper's ad as "misleading" for saying Gardner was "on vacation" during the Senate's August state work period, when the Republican kept up a heavy schedule of campaigning and holding meetings across the state.
"Governor Hickenlooper has once again traded a long-standing campaign promise for political cheap shots and desperate lies," Gardner said Wednesday in a statement. "While Hickenlooper slings mud, I'll continue to stay true and work hard for Colorado, consistently delivering results for our state."
Democrats scoffed at Gardner's scolding over mud-slinging, noting that he's been churning out a steady stream of negative ads of his own this cycle, attacking Hickenlooper with charges fact-checkers have called "misleading" and "false."
The Hickenlooper campaign seized on the closing line in Gardner's new ad in a statement.
"Well, Cory Gardner has one thing right in his latest desperate attack: Coloradans don't agree with him selling out Colorado for Trump again and again,” said campaign spokeswoman Alyssa Roberts.
"Trump himself said that Cory Gardner is with him 100% of the time, even when Coloradans are begging Gardner to protect our health care, environment and reproductive freedom. So Senator Gardner is right — he doesn’t agree with Colorado, and Coloradans won’t fall for his lies no matter how many desperate and misleading attacks he runs.”
The two candidates are scheduled to meet for a series of debates starting on Oct. 2, a week before ballots start going out to Colorado voters. They'll participate in a televised debate on Oct 13 sponsored by 9News, Colorado Politics, the Fort Collins Coloradoan and a number of local TV stations.