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GOP Senate candidate Joe O’Dea calls for “balance” on women’s rights

O'Dea sat down with 9News for the first time since announcing his campaign nearly a year ago.

DENVER — Republican Senate candidate Joe O’Dea now says his widely-covered pledge to codify the abortion protections of Roe versus Wade comes with strings attached.

In O’Dea’s first interview with 9NEWS since launching his campaign 11 months ago, O’Dea acknowledged that he wants parental notification, religious exemptions, and a continued ban on federal funding for abortion included in a deal to protect abortion rights.

O’Dea’s declaration that he would break with Republicans and vote with Democrats to codify Roe drew national attention as O’Dea positions himself as a self-described moderate Republican.

“I believe that for the first five months, a woman should have the right to choose,” O’Dea said. He also supports exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother.

Asked if he would vote for a straight codification of Roe, O’Dea said he wants additional restrictions and measures included in the bill: parental notification, exemptions for religious hospitals, and a continued ban on federal funding of abortion.

“I'm going to the Senate to negotiate a good bill that brings balance to women's rights,” O’Dea said.

He said he understood that his pro-Roe position got a lot of attention and that now he wants to attach additional restrictions to a bill protecting abortion rights. 

“I understand that,” O’Dea said. “But that's a debate that we're gonna have.”

O’Dea frequently pledges he would work with Democratic leaders to move the country forward, but he was unable to name a single one of President Biden's priorities that he would break with his party to support.

“I don't know of anything that's blocked right now that I could help him get done,” O’Dea said. “But if it's good for Colorado, then I'm going to be there for him.”

O’Dea had previously said he would vote for former President Trump if Trump is the Republican nominee in 2024, although O’Dea is adamant he’d prefer a different GOP nominee.

In his first interview with 9NEWS, O’Dea would no longer say whether he would vote for Trump. O’Dea dodged the question multiple times, repeating only that he doesn’t want Trump to run.

O’Dea is not an election denier. He said he would have voted to certify the 2020 election results and supports a bipartisan effort to make it harder to raise objections against election results in the Senate.

O’Dea said he would not have joined the seven Republicans who voted to convict and impeach President Trump for his actions related to the insurrection and Capitol attack of January 6, 2021. 

O’Dea said in a June 2022 GOP primary forum on CBS4 that he does not believe Trump was at all to blame, even in part, for the violence at the Capitol.

He offered a different position when talking with 9NEWS.

“I’ve said that he does bear some blame,” O’Dea said. “Three and a half hours to come out and say stop. That's too long. He should have used his position to stop that immediately. I don't believe in violence. Anybody that was violent that day deserves to be accountable.”

O’Dea said he would also oppose efforts to impeach President Biden, like the one launched by Colorado Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.

Former Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said while in office that he would not block the CORE Act, which would protect 400,000 acres of wilderness and sensitive sites in Colorado. O’Dea said he doesn’t support the bill as written but couldn’t name a specific objection in the bill’s contents.

“I would have to look at the exact pieces but I think that the reality is the locals need to weigh in on what parts of the bill prohibit development and what parts of the bill don't,” O’Dea said.

He opposes Democratic Senator Michael Bennet’s call for President Biden to act unilaterally to create a National Monument to protect Camp Hale, where soldiers trained for mountain combat in World War II, and part of the TenMile Range.

“We don't need an executive order. I think that's an abuse,” O’Dea said. “I think we need to go through the process.”

O’Dea’s view on man-made climate change is at odds with the scientific consensus. His comments suggested there is still serious disagreement over whether human activity is the primary driver of climate change.

“I think there's a debate as to what percentage is this and what percentage is that but there's some that's naturally caused,” O’Dea said. “I also believe that we need to move our country forward with renewable energy.”

O’Dea is a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry. He says one way to tackle inflation is to "flood the market" with American fossil fuels.

“We haven't created certainty for people that drill for gas, people to drill for oil and so what are they going to do? They're not spending money on developing more so that's causing the supply chain to lessen” O’Dea said. “And that's what causes the price of that to go up. If we flood the market, if we create certainty.”

O’Dea faces incumbent Senator Bennet in November’s general election. Bennet has previously been interviewed on Next and his campaign has committed to a similar extended interview in the coming weeks.

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