Surrogates flood Colorado

Surrogate appearances are exploding around swing state Colorado as the presidential campaigns make their final pushes in the 2012 presidential election.

Although the candidates and their wives have made a combined 42 campaign stops in Colorado this election, the candidates’ celebrities, family members and fellow politicians that act as surrogates are outpacing the candidates in their short absences. Surrogates, or allies representing a campaign, are swarming this state, a phenomenon that Colorado has only begun to experience since becoming a battleground state in recent elections. Colorado’s nine electoral college votes may be decided where one of these appearances occur.

Dozens of celebrities have bolstered support for the candidates in the past few months. While Rodney Atkins and Kid Rock played at Red Rocks for Mitt Romney last week, Bruce Springsteen headlined for Barack Obama’s campaign in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO1) stumped, or spread the word for Obama, at the UMC Monday at noon. The incumbent congressman noted his own bid for reelection amidst remarks on Obama’s presidency, before leading about 30 people to the University Club polling station on campus. Polis voted among those 30 or so students.

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The congressman has been stumping across his district this season.

“I’ve been going to events like this and talking about why it’s important for young people to vote and what’s at stake this election with the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney,” Polis said, before elaborating on what it means to be a surrogate.

“It means that the campaigns are sending people to the universities and to other places to speak on their behalf – stars, politicians, actors, writers, people of interest – so that’s why we’ve had a number of them come to CU in the last few weeks alone,” Polis said. “I focus a lot on CSU and CU; that’s a lot of where the surrogates are going because those are central areas to just meeting a lot of people.”

Kevin Mermel, an 18-year-old freshman international affairs major, said while walking with Polis to the polls on Monday that he knew of the recent Josh Romney and Will.i.am events in Boulder but did not attend either of them.

“What’s really important to me is the presidential election, and I’ve been following that for a year now and I feel like I made an educated decision on Barack Obama despite those people,” Mermel said.

Rachael Sawaya, a 19-year-old sophomore MCD biology major, also saw Polis speak and went to University Club where she voted Monday afternoon.

“It was amazing,” Sawaya said of Polis’s appearance after voting alongside him. “It was really cool to see a public official at your school and then voting – it’s a little unreal.”

Just 20 minutes from the Boulder campus, residents of Longmont have been visited by three of Mitt and Ann Romney’s five sons in the past six days. The latest, Craig Romney, stopped at the Longmont Republicans headquarters at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.

“It is a privilege to be able to represent my father,” Romney said near the end of his remarks. “I like to talk about my dad’s accomplishments.”

While Rep. Polis talked about Obama’s policy stances, Craig Romney’s surrogate appearance took a different tone, one of personal experience and anecdotes of his father. Romney said that he and his brothers will continue traversing the country to tell the candidate’s stories until Election Day.

“We’ll be going to Iowa, Florida, Ohio, you name it; we’re not stopping the rest of the election,” he said.

Melba Cutter, a resident of Longmont, saw Josh, Matt and Craig Romney when they stopped at the Longmont Republicans headquarters this past week. Cutter said that she has already voted for Mitt Romney and that the surrogate appearances are about more than garnering people’s ballots.

“It’s about showing our support for his father and for the Republican Party,” Cutter said.

Back in Boulder, Rep. Polis sat down with Radio 1190’s News Underground on his way to Boulder Theater for a get-out-the-vote concert with musician Ryan Adams and his girlfriend, Mandy Moore (more surrogates). Aside from social issues, Polis spent much time talking with 1190’s Joseph Oria about higher education.

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“At the very time that it’s more important than ever for people to have a college degree to be able to have a good job in the economy, it’s becoming less and less affordable for most families,” Polis said on air. “President Obama has taken some good initial steps, having student loan interest rates at 3.4 percent instead of 6.8 percent is great. Improving and expanding Pell Grants is terrific. I also have a bill to allow families to save more money pre-tax.”

Check out the sound bite of Oria’s interview with Polis for more.

Appearances such as Monday’s will continue throughout the next week as it is still unclear which candidate will prevail on Nov. 6. While vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan has cancelled his plans for three campaign events in Colorado on Tuesday in light of Hurricane Sandy, Bill Clinton will make appearances in Commerce City and Denver Tuesday evening.

Contact CU Independent Reporter and Opinion Editor Alison Noon at Alison.noon@colorado.edu.

Alison Noon

A Sophomore at CU, Alison is majoring in Media Studies in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. At the CU Independent, Alison has the pleasure of working in the position of Social Media Outreach Editor, collaborating with the rest of the team to bring CUI news to students via Facebook and Twitter. She enjoys walking to the Chautauqua area for hikes, using public transportation, and tidying her house.

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