DENVER — As part of President Barack Obama’s visit to Denver on Wednesday, he will headline a fundraiser for Sen. Mark Udall’s re-election campaign. But Udall won’t be there.
Udall’s campaign said Wednesday morning that the senator is staying in Washington to vote on Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Mark is grateful for the president’s support and had hoped to welcome him to Colorado in person, but his responsibilities to serve Colorado in the Senate come first,” spokesman Chris Harris said in a statement.
Udall had already planned on skipping Obama’s economic speech at Cheesman Park on Wednesday morning, the only scheduled event open to the press, playing into the narrative pushed by Republicans who argue that the president is an election year liability for Democrats.
He was expected to be at the fundraiser at the Westin Denver Downtown, which is off limits to reporters and news cameras.
Udall’s last-minute cancellation Wednesday morning only added fuel to the fire for Republicans.
“Actions speak louder than words,” read a press release Wednesday morning from the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “It’s clear that the President is beyond toxic, and Mark Udall’s campaign is running scared.”
“The Senate schedule has been set for months and Udall knew the Senate would be in session when he scheduled this fundraiser with Obama,” said former Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams. “So when he says he can’t make it today because of ‘important votes’ in Washington, he has known all along there would be votes this week but he clearly was initially willing to miss those votes to raise money with Obama.
“So now he won’t even try to sneak into town later today to raise the cash, he’ll stay hunkered down in Washington.”
Tickets to the fundraiser cost up to $15,000 per couple and the money is split between Udall’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, another Democrat facing reelection this fall, is also missing Wednesday morning’s speech because of a prior commitment to attend an event with veterans in Colorado Springs.
But Hickenlooper, who called the idea that he was avoiding Obama “overblown”, met up with the president Tuesday night in LoDo for a beer and game of pool at the Wynkoop Brewing Company in front of dozens of cameras and reporters.
Udall is in a tight race with Rep. Cory Gardner and the race could go a long way in determining if Republicans retake control of the Senate.
Gardner’s campaign released a Web video targeting Udall and his ties with Obama.