Dem hearts are aflutter in anticipation of Barack Obama’s visit to Baa Ram U. this afternoon. (He’s also visiting Denver for a rally at Civic Center Park.) He’ll be speaking at a very pretty part of campus known as “The Oval,” where most of the oldest buildings are located. (It’s the part of our campus that screams “college campus!”) I can’t be there myself, but I’ll try to post local news updates and video as they are available. It’s a good day to be Obama in Colorado–the Rocky Mountain News announced yesterday that their polling has him with a comfy 12-point lead here. (And yet, for some reason the national news stories I hear all identify Colorado as “close,” or a “toss-up.” Close? Stick a fork in us–we’re done, baby!) Obama is not alone with his double-digit lead–actually, Mark Udall has an even more commanding 14-point lead over Bob Schaffer for our open U.S. Senate seat. Even more exciting is the news that Betsy Markey may actually up-end Marilyn Musgrave, and install a Democrat in my congressional district for the first time since the early 1970s.
Colorado has been growing its own Democratic party–the state assembly and state senate flipped from Republican to Democratic control in 2004, and in 2006 we elected a Dem governor–but in presidential politics, an Obama win would still be remarkable. (The last Dem presidential candidate to win this state was Bill Clinton in 1992.) I sure wish things had turned around 4 years earlier–think of all of the trouble we could have saved the world if Colorado had gone for John Kerry!
Many of us worked hard for that, but I think too many people were still living in that post-9/11/01 coma of fear, and wanted to believe that George W. Bush was in fact the “Commander in Chief” they hoped he was, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Half of the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world, was onto Bush by then, but Hurricaine Katrina was the event that finally changed people’s minds about him domestically. The criminal ineptitude on display that last week of August 2005 was enraging and humiliating. I remember a conversation with my Republican father, who was visiting that week, while we watched a news report on TV about New Orleans, and I commented, “I just can’t believe we’re stuck with Bush for another three and a half years.” My father did a shocked double-take, and said, “we’ve got three and a half more years of this?,” appalled and disgusted by the thought of the continuing Bush regime. To be sure, the Dem congress hasn’t done enough to help the people of New Orleans–my hope is that New Orleans won’t be forgotten amidst the long list of problems the next U.S. president will inherit.
Here are some links and spaces to watch to get news and video feeds of Obama’s visits to Colorado today:
UPDATE, 12:35 MDT: He’s speaking now in Denver at Civic Center Park, and has been for about half an hour. He sounds good–who wouldn’t, with the kind of lead he’s got? Apparently, people started lining up at the park before dawn–and it was a very cold and windy morning here in Colorado. Denver Police estimate that he drew a crowd of more than 100,000, which is mind-bogglingly huge. Here’s a story from the Denver Post website, and here’s an excerpt from his prepared remarks. I wonder what the crowd up in Fort Collins will be at 3:30 p.m.?
UPDATE, FORT COLLINS, 2:15 P.M. MDT: The crowd is again huge, and was lined up since early this morning. People have started moving through the security screening to get into the Oval. I don’t know if the Denver Post and the other Denver media will also do a live stream of his appearance in Fort Collins, since they had their own visit earlier in the day, but the Fort Collins Coloradoan is featuring live updates.
UPDATE, 3:30 P.M. MDT: Wow–he’s speaking even a little ahead of schedule. You can find a link to the live video feed here. Good populist rhetoric–the country needs to work “not just for the CEO, but the secretary, and the janitor.”
UPDATE, 3:45 P.M. MDT: When he asked the crowd to raise their hands if they made less than $250K a year, the response was a little lackluster. Is it a really rich crowd up in Fort Collins today? The line about investing in renewables got a great response, and a good tie-in with Governor Ritter. (Baa Ram U. is branding itself “The Green University,” after all.)
UPDATE, 3:52 P.M. MDT: Here come his comments about expanding opportunities for college: “If you are willing to commit yourself to service. . . . whatever way you decide to serve. . . . then we are going to make sure you have the money to go to college, no ifs, ands, or buts.”
Obama has done a nice job of incorporating Hillary Clinton’s and Al Gore’s messages on universal health care and the environment into his spiel. It’s going over very well this sunny but unexpectedly cool afternoon.
UPDATE, 3:59 P.M. MDT: The no red America, no blue America routine–we all need to pull together for the good of the country. “I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people throughout our history. . . believe in yourselves, believe in each other, believe in the future.” Nice message of intergenerational dependence, and that young people today need to pass along their advantages to the generations that follow.
Nice speech–I think it was identical to the one he gave in Denver this afternoon, from what I saw of it, but that’s OK. I think it was a version of his stump speech, although I’m not sure since I don’t have cable TV.