Few protesters turn out for Romney in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Few protesters turn out for Romney in Basalt

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

BASALT – Mitt Romney’s appearance at Basalt High School on Thursday lured a small band of devoted protesters to the scene, but their loudest objection was directed at the local police, who sent them to a spot off school property.

“You would think a public place would allow free speech,” said Barbara Coddington, of Glenwood Springs, who came armed with several two-sided protest signs, allowing her to vary the message she displayed to the throngs making their way to the school.

The group was allowed to congregate next to the Rio Grande Trail, alongside Southside Drive and across the access road in front of the school.

“If you go up there and they don’t want you there, you could be arrested for trespassing,” Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor warned. “They rented it from the high school, and it’s in private hands.”

“Romney’s going to come right by here,” he added.

The protest was largely a low-key affair, though. The group drew praise from some bicyclists passing by on the trail, while Romney supporters traded occasional barbs with the sign wavers.

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Twenty-year-old Kidd Martin Baran, an Aspen native who now lives in Missouri Heights with his mother, said he woke up Thursday and decided to take a stand. He fashioned a pair of signs with a marker and corrugated cardboard. “ObamaCare saved my mom’s life,” read one of them.

Baran said his mother, laid off from her job as a housekeeper, suffers from lung and liver disease, among other ailments. She was without health insurance but has coverage now, he said, though he was unclear on how the president’s health care reform figured into the equation.

Diane Wolfe came from Hotchkiss to take part, bringing a sign that read, “Tax the rich – that’s you Mitt.” She said Republican failure to support social programs that help children have drawn her back into protest mode – something she hadn’t done since the civil-rights movement and Vietnam until she turned out to protest during a Romney appearance in Grand Junction last month.

“I wish Obama would do better, but clearly the Republicans aren’t going to do anything,” Wolfe said.

Asked if they thought their efforts would make a difference, Coddington and Nancy Smith, of Carbondale, shrugged.

“It makes us feel better,” Coddington said.

janet@aspentimes.com

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