McCain courts Colorado voters |

McCain courts Colorado voters

Ivan Moreno
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. reacts to the crowd as he speaks at rally at the The National Western Arena in Denver, Friday, Oct. 24, 2008. At right is Denver Broncos hall of fame quarterback John Elway (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

DENVER ” Colorado Republicans urged a raucous Denver crowd Friday to do everything possible to elect John McCain in the presidential campaign’s critical last days.

“I’m asking you for the next 10 days to do something to elect John McCain,” said former Gov. Bill Owens, telling people to knock on doors, call their neighbors and put up yard signs.

“Can you do that for John McCain?” asked Owens, and hundreds of people at Denver’s National Western Complex erupted in cheers.

McCain told the flag-waving crowd that “this is going to be a tough state, but we’re going to win here.”

McCain continued his assault on the Obama-Biden ticket on taxes, telling people waving “Joe the Plumber” signs that the Democrats will raise their taxes.

“Senator Obama and a Democratic Congress means ‘change’ in your pocket,” McCain said.

The Ohio plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher, has become the central element in speeches by McCain since Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plans would keep him from buying the two-man company where he works.

“America did not become the greatest nation on earth by giving our money to the government to spread the wealth around,” he said. “We believe in spreading opportunity.”

Obama has said his tax plan would offer breaks for 95 percent of the population, those making less than $250,000 a year.

McCain also referred to his comment in August that the Colorado River Compact should be “renegotiated over time.” McCain was criticized by his own party for the idea, and he backtracked.

“I thank you for the water. Keep sending it,” McCain said Friday, again reassuring Coloradans he won’t renegotiate the pact, which allocates the river among Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

McCain was visiting Denver, Colorado Springs and Durango on Friday in must-win Colorado, which has nine electoral votes. Some polls suggest McCain trails Democrat Barack Obama by as many as 5 percentage points in the state.

McCain spokesman Tom Kise said about 4,000 people were at the Denver event.

Also joining McCain in Denver was former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, who became known as the king of last-minute comebacks.

“It’s the fourth quarter. We need points on the board,” said Republican state Sen. Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield. “John Elway did it time and time again.”

Retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard urged the crowd to do all it can to elect fellow GOP member Bob Schaffer to fill his seat. Polls show Schaffer losing to Democratic Rep. Mark Udall.

“Colorado’s electoral votes are the votes that will elect the next president of the United States,” Schaffer said, reminding people that Ronald Reagan won here, as well as President Bush. “We need to do it again this year.”

McCain’s promise to lower taxes resonated in Denver, with some in the crowd holding signs that read, “Don’t take Joe’s $$$.”

“I can really sympathize with Joe the Plumber. I’m what you call ‘Joe Trucker,'” said Herman Utecht, who lives in the rural town of Hudson, about 30 miles northeast of Denver.

Aaron Hills, 31, said he distrusts the polls that show McCain trailing in Colorado.

“I think it’s a lot closer than they think. A lot of conservatives don’t have the time to do polls,” said Hills, a defense contractor at Buckley Air Force Base and a Navy reservist.

Obama is expected hold two rallies in Colorado on Sunday, and Sen. Hillary Clinton campaigned for Obama on Friday in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

Several members of ADAPT, which advocates for people with disabilities, at one point chanted over McCain’s speech before police led them away.

Protesters chanted, “Endorse Community Choice Act!,” referring to legislation that would mandate states to give people with disabilities the option of receiving care in their homes as opposed to a nursing home, said ADAPT spokesman Randy Alexander.

In Colorado Springs, McCain ate lunch at restaurant, posed for photos with other diners and toured Springs Fabrication, a manufacturer of precision tools.

Afterward, McCain urged a tax cut for small businesses, The Gazette reported.

“They’ve got payrolls to meet, and they have a lot of challenges out there in the way of obtaining health insurance for themselves and their employees and getting lines of credit and all the small business challenges that they face today,” McCain said.

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