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Thu August 9, 2012
Obama Talks Clean Energy, Latino Issues In Colorado
Originally published on Fri August 10, 2012 11:02 am
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. President Obama barnstormed through Colorado today holding rallies in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. It's his second full day in the state, one of a handful of battlegrounds that could decide the November election. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the president touted his support for clean energy and reached out to Colorado's growing Latino population.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Mariachis and Mexican folk dancers helped entertain the crowd waiting for Mr. Obama at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. The president has a lot of fans in this part of the state, including Annie Backa(ph), who calls Mr. Obama one in a million.
ANNIE BACKA: He sure likes Pueblo. He's been here more than one time. I think he likes the Mexican food.
HORSLEY: Sure enough, Mr. Obama stopped off on his way to the fairgrounds at Romero's Restaurant, where he ordered some of the award-winning green chili. Backa says, during his time in office, Mr. Obama has helped a lot of people out of jams. She points to his rescue of the auto industry as one example.
BACKA: We need to keep him in. Romney, I don't know. Romney's after the rich people and, like, we're poor. You know, what are you going to do? I'm rich in loving grandkids.
HORSLEY: Mr. Obama's latest populist message is tailor-made for this audience. He blasted Romney's tax plan, which the independent tax policy center found would cut taxes for the wealthy while shifting the cost onto the middle class.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We don't need tax cuts for folks who are doing really, really, really well. We need to keep taxes low for working Americans like you.
HORSLEY: The president defended a clean energy tax credit that Romney has marked to eliminate, saying without it, hundreds of jobs at a local wind turbine maker could be lost. He also contrasted Romney's hard line against illegal immigration with his own decision not to deport those brought to this country as children.
OBAMA: A young person who comes to America, is brought here, is raised here, is friends with our kids, is going to school with our kids, is American in every single way except for a piece of paper, should have a chance to be a part of the American family.
HORSLEY: Bookstore owner Susan Kreitz(ph) drove two hours from Lamar, Colorado, to attend the Pueblo rally. She sat near the stage wearing a crisp Obama T-shirt.
SUSAN KREITZ: I bought that in 2008 and I don't wear it very often because I want to keep it nice, but it's my favorite.
HORSLEY: The shirt shows Mr. Obama ripping open his suit jacket to expose a giant O, Superman style. Kreitz says that image still works for her.
KREITZ: He does the best he can, but there's a heck of a lot of kryptonite in Washington, D.C.
HORSLEY: Pueblo has long been a Democratic stronghold, but Mr. Obama's also campaigning in heavily Republican parts of the state, like Colorado Springs. Headquarters of Focus on the Family and a magnet for evangelicals. In 2008, Mr. Obama lost here by almost 20 points, but that was still better than John Kerry did four years earlier.
Political scientist Seth Masket of the University of Denver says Mr. Obama is seeking votes even in hostile parts of the state.
SETH MASKET: Historically, presidential campaigns have not spent a whole lot of effort trying to get those Democrats out. They just figure, well, it's a lost area. A high Democratic turnout in those areas - well, it's not going to make the county necessarily Democratic, but it could help flip the state.
HORSLEY: It worked for Mr. Obama four years ago, when winning Colorado was icing on his national victory. He's hoping it'll work again now that every swing state counts.
Scott Horsley, NPR News, Colorado Springs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.