Mark M. Matthews --- The Denver Post
WASHINGTON — With most polls showing Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner running almost even in their battle for the U.S. Senate, Gardner in recent weeks has tried a new tactic to break the deadlock.
He's gone global, and attacked Udall on foreign policy.
It's an unusual maneuver, as foreign policy rarely has much bearing on House or Senate races. Adding to the difficulty is Udall's experience in that arena, especially on intelligence matters.
But with Election Day less than two months away and President Barack Obama's approval numbers on foreign policy in the basement, Gardner has broadened his criticism of Udall to include both terrorism and the crisis in the Middle East.
The gambit has risks, not the least of which is showcasing the difference in worldviews between the two candidates. But Gardner has committed to this line of attack, going so far as to compare Udall's position to one of betrayal.
In an interview last week with The Denver Post, Gardner blasted Udall for not describing the activities of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) — whose members recently beheaded two U.S. journalists — as an "imminent threat" to American safety.
"The only person who doesn't believe (the Islamic State) is an imminent threat is Mark Udall," Gardner said. "To say they are not an imminent threat is betraying the security needs and safety of our country."
For his part, Udall has condemned the violence committed by Islamic State militants. But the first-term senator has stopped short of calling the U.S.-designated terrorist group an immediate danger to the U.S. homeland — a reticence that reflects his overall caution in overextending American might at home and abroad.
"It is very clear that ISIL presents a very serious threat to U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East, and the group's actions have left no doubt that it's going to take both brains and brawn to defeat them," Udall said recently at a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member.