Obama draws about 150,000 to Colorado rallies | AspenTimes.com

Obama draws about 150,000 to Colorado rallies

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., arrives at a rally in Fort Collins, Colo., Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

DENVER ” Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama brought his campaign back to Colorado on Sunday for another rock-star reception, drawing about 150,000 people at early voting rallies in Denver and Fort Collins.

In Denver, a crowd estimated at “well over” 100,000 people spilled out of Civic Center Park. Supporters jammed side streets and even sat on the steps of the state Capitol two blocks away, using binoculars and telephoto lenses to try to get a glimpse of the front-runner as he canvassed the West for votes.

“Goodness gracious,” he said, squinting to see people standing shoulder to shoulder for blocks.

“Go to the polls,” Obama told cheering supporters.

It’s believed to have been the largest rally for Obama in the nation during the campaign.

It was similar to the rousing support Obama got in August when he gave his nominating speech at Invesco Field at Mile High stadium, inviting Republicans, Democrats and others to kick off the final push of the campaign.

Not since Pope John Paul II filled the park in 1993 have so many people turned out for an event in Denver’s Civic Center Park.

Later, 45,000 people filled a lawn known as “The Oval” at Colorado State University to hear Obama speak. Thousands more stood on the outskirts.

In recent days, both Obama and John McCain have targeted Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. President Bush won all three states in 2004, and Democrats view their 19 electoral votes as key to getting the 270 needed to win the White House.

Colorado has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only three times since 1948, when it went for Harry Truman. Lyndon B. Johnson won here in 1964, and Bill Clinton in 1992.

In an interview with KOA-AM in Denver, Obama said people could judge both McCain and himself by their response to the financial crisis.

“I think that people felt like I was steady, that I brought the best minds together to examine the problem, that was I clear in the set of principles that would guide my approach to the financial crisis,” Obama said.

Among the crowd in Fort Collins was Travis Slisher, a 24-year-old plumber, who criticized McCain’s references to Joe the Plumber. He said McCain isn’t speaking for plumbers when he talks about them being able to buy their own businesses.

“We represent the middle class. We don’t have the money to buy our own businesses,” Slisher said.

Doris Miller, 76-year-old retired teacher from Livermore, said she believes Obama’s popularity has reached all the way down the Democratic ticket and will help the party’s congressional candidates, including Betsy Markey and Mark Udall.

Markey is trying to unseat Republican Marilyn Musgrave in the state’s 4th Congressional District, which includes northern Colorado and the Eastern Plains. Udall is running against Republican Bob Schaffer for the Senate seat being given up by Republican Wayne Allard.

Miller said eight years ago only a dozen people showed up when she had Democratic caucuses in her home. This year 115 people showed up.

“Everybody is just so enthused. I think that’s going to help all Democratic candidates,” Miller said.

Statewide, Obama was the overwhelming favorite in the February caucuses, gaining 66 percent of the vote compared with 33 percent for Hillary Clinton.

In Denver, Nikki Andres, a 28-year-old social worker, could only hear Obama as she sat with her family in a nearby park, but she said she was impressed with what she heard. She said Obama has a message that sometimes gets lost in the hoopla.

“I don’t like it that people treat him like a rock star. He’s down to earth. People are enthusiastic because he offers something they can believe in,” she said.

Julie Nosek, a 72-year-old retired Methodist minister, said Obama has the ability to convey his values and he leaves many people star-struck.

“I think he has deep faith. He a very human person with life experiences that matter,” she said.

Federico Pena, a former Cabinet member under President Clinton, said the campaign has attracted a lot of new voters, and brought a lot of supporters from previous campaigns back into the fold. He urged supporters not to be lulled by polls showing Obama with a big lead in Colorado.

“I know polls show we’re doing fine, but please do not rest,” Pena said.

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