|Senator Cory Gardner | Getty|
The blowback from Republicans was triggered by Trump’s statement of moral equivalency between Vladimir Putin and the U.S. Republican leadership disagreed, including the Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who called Putin a thug, Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker who proposed sanction legislation, and Committee member Senator Marco Rubio who asked new Secretary of State Tillerson if given the evidence of bad behavior, Putin could be classified as a war criminal.
Gardner is on the Foreign Relations Committee and building a reputation for expertise and a willingness to speak out.
The politics of Gardner’s criticism of Trump is tricky. Left-wing protestors dog his visits (the resistance), Trump supporters feel he’s being disloyal and establishment Republicans worry about the state’s clout with the administration. But Gardner’s positioning appears to have served him well. He has very conservative principles (High Plains Tea Party-type), he is part of the leadership (establishment credentials) and he strikes out with some independent positions (skepticism on Trump’s Russian policy). So far, it’s worked.
Read Politico: Trump’s GOP foreign policy critics grow louder