DENVER – The Western Conservative Summit kicks off Friday in Denver, and though President Donald Trump won’t be there this year as he was in 2016, the event is packed with high-profile Republicans and comes in the midst of a trying time for the GOP in Washington.
The yearly summit comes as Senate Republicans are expected to try for a last-ditch effort to get one of three possible health care bills to the floor early next week, though some of the senators who have opted to oppose bringing the Senate’s bills to the floor remain on the fence.
It also comes after a week of discord in the White House, as President Trump seemed to throw Attorney General Jeff Sessions under the bus over his recusal from the Justice Department probe into the 2016 in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after Anthony Scaramucci was appointed as new White House communications director.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be at the summit, and announced Friday that Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients National Monument would remain a national monument after a review of designations made under presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama that was ordered by President Trump in April.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is scheduled to speak at the summit on Friday evening, though it’s unclear exactly what time or what he’ll talk about.
He’s been among the most under-pressure Senate Republicans regarding the GOP’s attempts to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act, as he’s yet to definitively take a public stand one way or another on any of the three proposals laid out by the Senate GOP over the past two weeks.
Earlier this week, he seemed to tip his hand on how he felt when he said he wasn’t happy with people who he said were “spiking the football” after efforts to get a repeal-now, replace-later bill to a floor vote.
But in an interview with the Denver Post Thursday, he said he “would prefer a solution that would be a replacement” for the Affordable Care Act, perhaps a hint he wasn’t pushing for the repeal-only bill that some of his Senate colleagues have sought to vote on.
But Gardner said he wouldn’t speculate on if he’d support that bill.
“I don’t know that’s what would come up and I don’t want to say that I’m going to vote for this, that or the other before I see it and before I know what’s in it,” Gardner’s told The Post. “I don’t see why anybody should be concerned about fighting for legislation that they believe will do better than what we have.”
But Gardner also told The Post he wouldn’t focus only on health care in his speech to the Western Conservative Summit on Friday.
A group of advocates is expected to gather outside the convention center at 4 p.m. Friday to protest.
Many Colorado’s Republican governor candidates for 2018 will also be at the summit. Victor Mitchell will speak Friday night, and George Brauchler and Doug Robinson are scheduled to talk Saturday.
State Sen. Owen Hill, who is running for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District seat in the Republican primary for 2018, will also speak Saturday afternoon, and Rep. Ken Buck will speak Saturday night.
Also scheduled to speak Saturday night is Jay Sekulow, who President Trump has hired to represent him in the Russia scandal and who on Friday denied reports that Trump and the White House were discussing the possibility of pardons in the future.
The conference kicks off at 1:30 p.m. Friday, and the final session will start Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at the Colorado Convention Center.