Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., arrives at the Senate Chamber for an abbreviated pro-forma session at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Despite the firestorm that erupted when he became the first Republican senator to call for reopening the federal government, Colorado’s Cory Gardner said Friday that he hasn’t changed his position on shutdowns.

Gardner, who faces a tough re-election battle in two years in a state won by President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, said in a phone interview that he’s never supported a shutdown and that brinkmanship is not the way to run the world’s most powerful nation.

Gardner said he supports Trump’s demand for $5.6 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. But, he said, the GOP should reopen the government, then resume the fight over border security, putting Democrats on the defensive.

“They have some real questions to answer,” Gardner said of the Democrats.

The shutdown is heading into its third week with no signs of a resolution. After a “contentious” meeting with lawmakers Friday at the White House, Trump held a news conference in the Rose Garden during which he said he was willing to keep the government shut for months or years to get money for a border wall.

Gardner made national headlines Thursday night for what media outlets described as the first signs of cracks in the GOP’s support for Trump’s refusal to approve funding for a portion of the government until Congress sends him a budget that includes billions of dollars for the border wall.

Gardner has parted ways with Trump in the past over issues of decorum and foreign policy.

“I think we ought to fund the government and border security,” Gardner said.

Gardner denied trying to appeal to more moderate and left-wing voters after Colorado led the nation’s blue wave in lat November’s midterm elections, handing all the levers of state government to the Democrats.

“I’m going to continue to do what I believe is right,” he said.

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