trump and gardner

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks as President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the Broadmoor World Arena Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, during the president's visit to Colorado Springs.

President Donald Trump will return to Colorado to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in the Denver area for U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on March 13, Colorado Politics has learned.

It will be Trump's second visit to the state in a month, following his appearance at a "Keep America Great" rally in Colorado Springs on Feb. 20.

The top-priced ticket to the March lunch-time fundraiser costs $100,000, which gets donors a seat at a roundtable, a photo opportunity with the president and VIP seating for two at the luncheon, according to an invitation obtained by Colorado Politics.

One of the hosts of fundraiser is homebuilder Larry Mizel, a prominent donor to the Trump campaign but also a longtime fan and supporter of former Gov. John Hickenlooper, the leading Democrat running against Gardner, Colorado Politics has confirmed.

Mizel's company, MDC Holdings, paid for Hickenlooper to fly on a private plane to Connecticut to attend a ceremony commissioning the USS Colorado, an attack submarine, when he was governor. The flight is at the center of a pending ethics complaint alleging Hickenlooper improperly accepted travel expenses. 

Last month, Trump held a joint fundraiser with Gardner, billed as a "special rally opportunity," after touching down in Colorado Springs.

At the rally, which drew an estimated 10,000 supporters to the Broadmoor World Arena and an equal number gathered outside in the parking lot, the president brought Gardner on stage and called the Republican a "rock solid" ally.

“And you’re going to help us get Cory Gardner across that line because he’s been with us 100%,” Trump said as the crowd cheered. “There was no waver. He’s been with us. There was no waver with Cory.”

“Colorado, we are going to win,” Gardner said. “We are going to win because we believe in Colorado! We are going to win because we believe in America!”

Gardner, considered the most vulnerable Republican senator on the ballot next year, stood by Trump at every turn during the recent impeachment proceedings, voting against calling additional witnesses in the Senate trial before voting to acquit Trump. 

Both Republicans' approval ratings are under water with Colorado voters, but their campaigns say it's too early to count them out in a state with a notorious independent streak.

A spokeswoman for the Gardner campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, told Colorado Politics that the campaign believes Colorado is "moving in our direction.”

"We think there’s an independent, libertarian streak that runs through Colorado, and we think the president’s record appeals to Colorado," Murtaugh said in an interview.

Gardner appeared at a Trump fundraiser with former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr. in New York in October. He was one of nine GOP senators who were "special guests" at a November fundraiser headlined by the president at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Vice President Mike Pence raised money in Colorado for the Trump and Gardner campaigns at separate events in July.

Gardner brought in $2 million in contributions for the most recent quarter, lagging the $2.8 million raised by Hickenlooper for the same quarter. The incumbent, however, started the year with $7.8 million in the bank, more than twice the $3.2 million reported by Hickenlooper.

A spokeswoman for the Hickenlooper campaign said it was no coincidence Trump is returning so soon to Colorado to raise campaign cash for Gardner.

"Now Trump is coming back to help his yes-man rake in more cash from wealthy donors, but Sen. Gardner won't be able to spend away his record of selling out Coloradans' clean air and water, access to affordable health care and reproductive freedom," Alyssa Roberts told Colorado Politics in a statement.

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