Presidential candidates make final appearances in Colorado

As one of half a dozen swing states that will decide the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have been making their final appearances across Colorado the last two days.

Mitt Romney took the podium at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre (Fiddler’s Green) Thursday evening in front 17,000 audience members and an enormous “Real change on day one” poster.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney addresses an estimated crowd of 17,000 at Comfort Dental Amphitheater in Englewood Saturday night. (James Bradbury/CU Independent)

It was the largest crowd the Republican candidate has ever amassed in Colorado, sufficiently seating the thousands of supporters that were turned away when his last venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, was filled.

During his 25-minute speech Saturday evening, Romney made many jabs at Obama’s presidency.

“Four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short,” Romney said, going on to criticize what he said is Obama’s partisan-divided governing, health care legislation, the federal deficit and unemployment in America.

“I thought this was interesting: he has not met on the economy or on the budget or on jobs with either the Republican leader of the House or the Senate since July,” Romney said. “Instead of bridging the divide, he’s made the divide wider.”

The Republican candidate offered himself as the economic transformation the country sought in Obama in 2008.

“The question of this election comes down to this – do you want more of the same or do you want real change?” Romney said. “President Obama promised change but he could not deliver change. Now I promise change and I have a record of achieving real change.”

Romney noted his lead role in organizing the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and his experience with dysfunctional budgets as governor of Massachusetts to back up his record.

“This is why I’m running for president, I know how to change the course of the nation,” he said. “Paul Ryan and I will bring real change to America from day one.”

Obama remarked that the messages Mitt Romney has given to Americans have differed throughout the campaign season and that, most recently, the Republican candidate is portraying Bush-era policies as “real change.”

“You’ve got to give him credit, Gov. Romney is a pretty talented salesman, and in this campaign, he’s tried as hard as he can to repackage the same old bad ideas that didn’t work and offer them up as new ideas,” Obama told a crowd of 20,000 at the Community College of Aurora late Sunday evening. “He says they’re change.”

“You know what real change looks like. I’ve got the scars to prove it, I’ve got the grey hair to show it,” he said. An audience member yelled, “And it looks good, baby!”

“I appreciate that,” Obama said.

He compared former president Bill Clinton’s experience in job creation and his federal budget plan – making the people “at the top” pay slightly higher tax rates – to the slow progress that the current White House administration is currently seeing. Obama said that the Bush-era economic plan turned Clinton’s progress around.

“Colorado, we know our ideas work because they’ve been tested, they’ve been tried, and we also know that the other folks’ ideas don’t work because they’ve been tested,” he said. Obama added that he thinks Romney’s “real change” is a ploy.

“Here’s the thing, part of a presidential race is about policy, and part is about trust,” he said. “You’ve gotta have a sense of whether or not the person means what they say and say what they mean, and the thing is, Colorado, after four years, you know me.”

Obama laid down hard-hitting actualities about his presidency that his supporters cheered nonetheless.

“You may not agree with every decision I’ve made, but Michelle doesn’t either; you may be frustrated sometimes by the pace of change – guess what, so am I,” he said. “But you know what I believe, you know where I stand, you know I tell the truth.”

Young Coloradans attended both rallies, including Chris Waterman, a student at CU Denver who is sure that Colorado will be won by Republicans on Tuesday and traveled to Fiddler’s Green to see Romney for the second time this year.

“I think Colorado is already pretty red,” Waterman said. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

In Aurora, Jacqueline Grimsley, a 19-year-old sophomore political science major at CU-Boulder, said that she has attended five of Obama’s 14 campaign rallies this year. She, too, is hesitant about calling Colorado a toss-up state.

“He wants us bad and I don’t know if he’s going to get us,” Grimsley said. “I’m really nervous, I think it’s super close here. Even with people I know it’s split 50-50. I think he really is trying to solidify his standing [with the rallies], but I don’t know if he’ll get Colorado.”

Despite polls showing a dead heat in Colorado, Republicans are leading Democrats 38 to 35 percent in early voting, according to numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office.

“It could come down to Colorado, it could come down to you, and we should treat it that way,” Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) told attendees of Obama’s event Sunday night.

“Let’s not talk about it anymore, let’s not think about it anymore, let’s not worry about it anymore, just vote,” Bennett said.

Dave Matthews played before Obama took the stage Sunday night. Matthews has been aiding the recovery process of Hurricane Sandy, like he did in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, and has been stumping for Obama recently.

“Let me just tell you, Dave Matthews doesn’t get out and do this for just anybody,” Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said.

The musician, solo on stage with only his guitar, played for about 20 minutes, calling himself an “opener” for Obama.

“I’m so proud that we brought Barack Obama into the White House four years ago, and I think that if we push a little harder we’re going to get him in again,” Matthews said before beginning his five-song set.

Romney’s rally also featured a well-known artist–Randy Owen, lead singer of country band Alabama.

“What an honor it is to sing for the next President of the United States,” Owen said.

The weekend marked the presidential candidates’ last campaign visits to Colorado before the election. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will hold a rally in Johnstown, Colo., as part of his five-state tour on Monday.

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

Alison Noon

Alison is a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism and political science. She likes to run around outdoors when there's time.

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