Back in Colorado, Obama looks for ’08 magic on the road to DNC
CHARLOTTE, NC – Four years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama was viewed as a long-shot to beat then-Sen. Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic presidential nomination — until Iowa, where he surged to a first place finish in the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and never looked back.
From there, it was a long slog to Denver and that August night at what was then still called Invesco Field at Mile High, where Obama became the first African-American candidate to be a major party’s nominee for president.
Now, in the final year of his term, President Obama is back on the road, campaigning this weekend in Iowa and Colorado on his way to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he’ll again accept the Democratic nomination next Thursday night, again in the open air of a massive stadium filled with tens of thousands of cheering supporters.
But, even in places that are so evocative of that historic run to the White House, recapturing the excitement of 2008 has been difficult.
Last Tuesday, as a rain-delayed Republican National Convention got underway in Tampa, Fla., Obama held a rally at Colorado State University in Fort Collins that drew 13,000 people, a third of the crowd that cheered him there four years ago.
This weekend, Obama’s four-day road trip to the DNC began with a rally outside Des Moines that drew about 10,000 people; and, for the moment, the campaign is parked again in the Centennial State, with the campaign overnighting in Broomfield before a rally Sunday morning on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.
It’s already the president’s eighth trip to Colorado this year, and it comes less than four weeks after a two-day swing that saw President Obama rally crowds in Denver, Grand Junction, Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
A large part of Obama’s strategy, as evidenced by that Denver rally last month focused on women’s health and co-headlined by Sandra Fluke, is focusing on women and Hispanics, following what Colorado political observers have dubbed “The Bennet Model”, something the New York Times honed in on in an article on Saturday.
Already, the Obama campaign has been running TV ads, as Bennet did against Buck, featuring regular Colorado women talking directly to the camera about their concerns over Romney’s pro-life position on abortion and his statement that he intends to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.
But will it be enough?
Unlike the gaffe-prone Ken Buck whose careless comments about homosexuality and high heels enabled Bennet’s strategy, Mitt Romney is an exceedingly careful candidate — well aware of the Obama campaign’s outreach to women and looking to counter it at every turn.
In his own acceptance speech last Thursday night, Romney made an overt appeal to women, describing his mother’s belief in gender equality and how proud she would have been to see women like Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley shining on the RNC stage.
Last month, in Colorado and several other states, Romney’s campaign held “Women for Mitt” events to highlight the candidate’s support among GOP women and to argue that women should care more about the country’s economy than a candidate’s position on abortion or access to birth control.
In Boulder Sunday morning, Obama is going to offer his take on the RNC, where, as the president said Saturday in Iowa, Republicans put forth “an agenda that was better suited for the last century.
“It was a re-run. We’ve seen it before,” Obama said. “You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV.”
In Tampa, the primary theme of Romney’s speech — and Clint Eastwood’s largely incoherent soliloquy –was that the president, however popular and well-intentioned, has failed to do the job of fixing the country’s economy and deserved to be fired.
Obama’s comments Saturday in Urbandale, Iowa were his first responding to Romney’s speech at the RNC.
“If you didn’t DVR it, let me recap it for you. Everything’s bad. It’s Obama’s fault. And Gov. Romney is the only one who knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy,” Obama told the crowd. “There was a lot of talk about hard truths and bold choices but nobody ever bothered to tell you what they were.”
“And when Gov. Romney had a chance to let you in on his secret, he did not offer a single new idea. Just retreads of the same old policies that have been sticking it to the middle class for years.”
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