Oct 262004
 
Authors: Ryan Riggen

 

Coloradans could hold the fate of the presidential election in

their hands as they prepare to cast their votes.

The decision who will be the next U.S. president may come down

to Colorado voters, and both candidates are attempting to swing the

vote to their side by continuously visiting the state.

“There is a good block of electoral votes here,” said Bill

Chaloupka, political science professor and department chair. “That

really makes a difference. This election is likely to be decided by

fewer than nine electoral votes.”

Andy Davis, communications adviser for the Sen. John Kerry/Sen.

John Edwards campaign, said Kerry visited Colorado a lot during

this campaign because this is a hotly contested state with a lot of

moderate, independent-minded voters.

“The fact that Bush has been here a lot shows that he’s

struggling to stay even,” Davis said. “Kerry is doing very

favorably in all parts of the state and is making an investment of

time and effort.”

Davis said Colorado is a hot battleground state and the youth

vote is playing a large role. Kerry was born in Colorado, which

Davis said gives him another connection to the state.

Nicole Andrews, spokesperson for the President Bush/Vice

President Dick Cheney campaign, said the fact that Kerry was born

here does not make up for his years of voting against Colorado and

Western legislation that would benefit Colorado.

Bush and Kerry have each visited different areas of Colorado six

times during this campaign.

“There are different opportunities to go to different parts of

the state,” Andrews said. “We feel very good about Bush’s position

here.”

Davis said the decision to go to certain parts of the state is a

combination of the Kerry campaign’s state and national agendas.

As the Nov. 2 election approaches, both candidates have focused

on Colorado in recent weeks, putting the state in the national

political spotlight.

Kerry’s recent visit to Pueblo and Bush’s visit to Greeley both

were made as an effort to secure Colorado’s nine electoral

votes.

Andrews said Colorado is an important state and Bush is not

taking anything for granted. Andrews said the nine electoral votes

in Colorado are important to Bush, and he is committed to making

sure Colorado votes for him again, as the state did in the 2000

election.

Chaloupka offered one theory why Colorado has seen so much

attention from the candidates.

“Colorado is in the Rocky Mountain time zone, so the timing

works out pretty well,” Chaloupka said. “The candidates can be on

television in the middle of the day and get out to do more events

for the rest of the day. This is an easy state to get in and out of

so this is a conceivable reason.”

President Bush’s visit to Greeley on Monday was an effort to

repeat history. During the rally, Bush referenced Franklin D.

Roosevelt’s visit to northern Colorado when he was trying to secure

his second term as president 70 years ago. Bush told the Greeley

crowd that shortly after Roosevelt visited Northern Colorado, he

was elected to his second term as president.

“With your help, history will be repeated,” Bush said to a crowd

of supporters at the Island Grove Event Center, 501 N. 14th St., in

Greeley.

Chuck Fogland, president of the CSU Republicans, said the visits

could be because of the tight U.S. Senate race between Republican

Pete Coors and Democrat Ken Salazar in Colorado. Bush was in

Colorado earlier this month to attend a Republican rally and

campaign for Coors at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison.

“We have a hotly contested U.S. Senate race,” Fogland said.

“This race could overturn the Republican-controlled Senate. I’m not

sure Kerry thinks he can win Colorado but he is confident Salazar

can win.”

Kerry was also in Colorado earlier this month campaigning with

Salazar at the Union Depot, 132 W. B St., in Pueblo. According to

JohnKerry.com, the rally drew more than 10,000 people.

Chaloupka said Amendment 36, which if passed would split the

state’s electoral votes proportionately with the popular vote, is

most likely not a reason for the candidates’ visits to Colorado. He

said Amendment 36 is not likely to pass because it has dropped

steadily in the polls. He said if the candidates thought the

amendment was going to pass, they probably would not be here as

often because they would essentially be fighting for one electoral

vote instead of nine. The amendment would likely split Colorado’s

nine votes so that one candidate would get five and the other would

get four.

“It is not a factor at all,” Davis said of Amendment 36. “It has

not changed the strategy at all.”

Andrews and Davis agreed that Colorado is an important state in

the upcoming election. Davis listed Colorado with Florida, Ohio,

Pennsylvania and Minnesota as the most hotly contested states.

Andrews said it is hard to say which states are the most contested,

she but did say Colorado is important to the Bush campaign.

“Colorado is on everyone’s list as a swing state,” Chaloupka

said. “This is a narrow Bush state. It is close though, a lot

closer than anybody would have thought. Close elections can have

surprising results.”

 

Kerry’s visits: Pueblo on Oct.

23,

Englewood on Oct. 5 to 7

Aurora on Sept. 17

La Junta on Aug. 7

Denver on June 21 and July 23.

Bush’s visits: Greeley on Oct.

25

Colorado Springs on Oct. 12 and June

2

Greenwood Village on Sept. 14

Denver on Oct. 11 and June 1.

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