Area Republicans converge to hear candidate on the issues |

Area Republicans converge to hear candidate on the issues

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Lynn Goldsmith Special to The Aspen Times

BASALT – Glenwood Springs resident Shannon Winkler thinks Mitt Romney has what it takes, as a successful businessman and an effective former governor, to turn the country around economically.

“I don’t support what Obama is doing, and Romney has a good track record and is hopefully the one to get us on the road to economic recovery,” Winkler said as she waited in line to hear Romney and 10 Republican governors speak at Basalt High School on Thursday.

“He jumped in and made the (Salt Lake City) Olympics successful in 2002, and that’s what we need,” she said, adding she was only a little surprised by Romney’s local visit. “Colorado is a swing state, so he’s reaching out.”

Winkler was part of a strong contingent of Garfield County residents who made the short trek up to Basalt for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s visit.

The campaign stop coincided with the Republican Governors Association conference being held in Aspen this week.

Many of those who hoped to hear the former Massachusetts governor speak were left waiting on the lawn after the gym reached capacity. But that didn’t quell their enthusiasm, and a public address system piped outdoors allowed them to hear Romney and the governors speak.

Megan Cook of Carbondale showed up with her two sons, Connor, 11, and Davis, 9, who gave up a day of mountain biking to hear Romney.

“He has an excellent and proven record in Massachusetts,” said Cook, a Boston native. “He has an ability to bring both sides of the aisle together to get things done, and that in itself would benefit our country.”

After hearing Romney’s message of more jobs, better take-home pay, natural resource development, energy independence and education reforms, Michelle Dechant of Carbondale said she was convinced Romney is the better candidate.

“We need all of what he said, and this country needs all of those folks working together to do it,” Dechant said in reference to the governors who accompanied Romney.

“We need unity to bring America back together again, and not be so divided,” she said.

Joining Romney on the stage were governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas, Matt Mead of Wyoming, Gary Herbert of Utah, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Jan Brewer of Arizona.

Jeffry Neuhouser, 20, of Fort Wayne, Ind., happened to be visiting Colorado this week and thought he’d come hear what Romney had to say.

“I was hoping to hear him in Indiana, so I was surprised to get to be able to come here,” said Neuhouser, who considers himself undecided between Romney and Obama at this point.

“I’m still weighing the options,” he said. “I’ll try to get to an Obama event, too, weigh them together and make my decision.”

Ben Wurtsmith, 82, of Burns in northern Eagle County, admits he’s lukewarm to Romney. But he considers him the “lesser of the two evils.”

“I supported Michele Bachmann in the primaries,” Wurtsmith said. “I don’t really like [Romney], but I’m going to vote for him.”

Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction and a former Garfield County Republican Party chairman, was asked to line up 20 construction workers be in the audience Thursday.

“I support his position to get people back to work,” Gould said of Romney.

Ironically, Gould was asked to suspend construction on the new Basalt Park and Ride facility near the high school to help with congestion and security during the event.

“This election comes down to whether you believe the private sector and small business can create jobs, or whether government creates jobs,” Gould said. “There seems to be a disconnect with this president over who is better at doing that.”

Eddie Kessler of Aspen proudly wore his “Pitkin County Republicans” T-shirt.

“This is a great thing to have our candidate here,” he said. “Between Romney and what the governors had to say, it will add to the knowledge base for people here.

“This country needs some logic and reason returned to it, and I think he’s the guy to do it,” Kessler said.

Current Garfield County Republican Chairman David Merritt of Glenwood Springs said he finds Romney to be a strong candidate with a strong message.

“It’s also fantastic having 10 governors speaking on the same important issues,” Merritt said.

Speculating on whether there might be a potential Romney running mate for vice president among the governors in attendance Thursday, Merritt said there are a lot of “competent, qualified” candidates in the mix.

“There was a broad range of expertise up there today,” he said. “The issues for us here are getting folks back to work and moving along on gaining energy independence and developing our natural resources.”

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