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PAGE 20 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ OCT. 5, 2012 “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.” — Francis Bacon

Re-ignited Obama lashes out at reinvented Romney BY ERNEST LUNING THE COLORADO STATESMAN

An energized President Barack Obama came out swinging on a chilly Thursday morning at a park in Denver and landed some of the punches that critics say he pulled the night before in his debate with Mitt Romney. “When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney,” Obama told the crowd. “But it couldn’t have been Mitt Romney, because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy. The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that.” Under gray, wintery skies at Sloan’s Lake Park a crowd of more than 12,000 supporters, many clad in scarves and mittens, whooped its approval as Obama reeled off the kind of rejoinders he had left unspoken when he stood feet away from Romney on Wednesday night. President Barack Obama approaches the stage at Sloan’s Lake Park on Oct. 4 for his first campaign rally following the first presidential debate. PHOTOS BY ERNEST LUNING/THE COLORADO STATESMAN “The real Mitt Romney said we do not need any more teachers in the classroom, but the fellow on stage said he loves teachers, can’t get enough of them,” Obama said. “The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called ‘pioneers of outsourcing’ jobs to other countries, but the guy on stage last night, he said that he doesn’t even know that there are such laws that encourage outsourcing — has never heard of them, never heard of them, never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” It was the same candidate — dynamic, with an infectious enthusiasm and a frequent smile U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet talks to a supporter at a rally for President — who has spoken at nine rallies Barack Obama on Oct. 4 at Sloan’s Lake Park. in Colorado this year, but that The crowd dances to the tunes of DJ before the arrival of President debate performance even strong the last Obama was nowhere to be found at the Barack Obama for a rally on a chilly morning on Oct. 4. supporters acknowledged was lackyear. And first presidential debate at the Univertruth.” luster, Obama said it was clear which that’s because he knows full well that sity of Denver, where an It was a point first raised by former we don’t want what he’s been selling aggressive and voluble Romney stood in candidate they can believe. “You see, the man on stage last for the last year,” he said, adding, “Gov. Denver Mayor Federico Peña, who stark contrast to his opponent, who reminded the crowd that they were Romney may dance around his posiappeared distracted and annoyed at the night, he does not want to be held accountable for the real Mitt Romney’s tions, but if you want to be president, lectern. Continued on Page 30 decisions and what he’s been saying for you owe the American people the In an attempt to rebound from a

Obama warms up shivering supporters the morning after BY MILLER HUDSON THE COLORADO STATESMAN

It’s probably a good thing that Northwest Denver is a solid Democratic neighborhood. The sound system at Barack Obama’s post debate rally Thursday morning was just short of deafening. The police officer at the tennis court parking lot, a quarter of a mile away, was wearing earplugs as rock and roll rattled windows and set dogs barking. It seems probable that the organizers were hoping for an ebullient, end zone dance for the President, but in today’s wired world everyone knew the score. Mitt Romney had thumped the leader of the free world like a drum on Wednesday evening. Nonetheless, six or eight thousand supporters had crawled out of bed on a chilly autumn morning that signaled winter was on its way even if we should enjoy a few more Indian summer days. Pallets of Deep Rock water bottles had been unceremoniously dumped at strategic locations, presumably as hydrating relief against a sweltering late summer morning. In a display of entrepreneurial ingenuity that would have pleased Governor Romney, the vertically challenged (short people) were confiscating the 24-pack cartons to improvise viewing platforms. These seemed to become unstable when stacked more than three deep. A Starbucks cart plying hot coffee would have made a fortune, paying off some kid’s student loans in the process. The crowd

was subdued, but convivial. Lots of conversations — not so much about politics, but about how they were going to get to work later. La Leché Leaguers would have been pleased with the clutch of Moms discreetly nursing their infants. An entire student body from a nearby elementary was mixed into the crowd, with distraught teachers trying to count heads as their charges ran loose. For those who suspect this report may constitute confirmation of their suspicion that a socialist conspiracy to brainwash the next generation is underway in our public schools, I was assured that each student had brought a note from home permitting them to participate in this civic exercise. A handful of Republican kids apparently remained behind in the cafeteria, where I suspect they deeply resented their parents. A couple drifted through the crowd with polar bear costume puppets and a sign admonishing Jim Lehrer for having ignored climate change — the “burning question” facing Americans. People took pictures of their kids with the polar bears, but tried to avoid any further conversations. Several antifrackers also attempted to stir up the crowd, and, occasionally the sweet scent of burning cannabis hung in the air. It seemed a little early in the day for this, rather like a martini before lunch, but who’s to judge? I ran across my friends, James Scott and his wife Ayo Labode, and their two children. They confirmed their unwa-

vering support for the President linked directly to their admiration for the tough decisions they believe he made early on to rescue the American economy. “It’s a question of courage,” Ayo told me. “Republicans have attemp-ted to humiliate this President at every opportunity. He’s my guy and I’m going to stand with him no matter what.” This kind of steely commitment, quiet yet resolute, characterized the shivering partisans waiting to hear their candidate. Federico Peña and Mark Udall attempted to arouse the crowd with partisan tropes, but were only greeted with polite, albeit appreciative, applause — these were men and women waiting for the main event. They represented a genuine cross section of Colorado, old and young, brown and black, struggling and comfortable. If nothing else, the Denver debate has clearly drawn a contrast between two fundamentally different views of our challenges and how to deal with them. If nothing else, and for better or worse, 2012 should prove a watershed election. Whichever party loses will be in for a significant retooling. Perhaps it was the secondhand fumes, but as Obama bounded to the podium on a rousing sea of cheers, it struck me that our Presidential candidates actually travel in a contrived musical cocoon, accompanied by the thumping beat of rock and roll drums and bass guitars. The President seemed to have tapped his personal energy reserve overnight and immediately lit

into the impostor claiming to be Mitt Romney that he debated the night before. The “fella on stage last night” apparently wasn’t interested in tax cuts, loved public school teachers and was wholly ignorant of tax incentives for outsourcing American jobs. Obama sarcastically described this fake Romney as in full flight from the record of the genuine Mitt Romney. It wasn’t a perfect rejoinder, and was too polite to call out his opponent as the lying sack of horse apples he believes him to be, but it got the crowd to chanting “Four more years!” Then the President returned to the well-worn and familiar stump speech we’ve all heard during the past few months: building an economy that will last — growing our economy from the middle out, not the top down — the call for a new economic patriotism — and the charge that a return to Bushonomics would constitute a “relapse”… all good, red meat rhetoric for a Democratic audience. It was difficult to recall the enthusiasm that attracted a hundred thousand Coloradans to the mall between the Capitol and City Hall four years ago. Obama is not the sure thing victor in Colorado this year that he was then. The bruises inflicted over the past four years have chastened both the candidate of hope and change along with his supporters. Their determination, however, to see it through, to give hope one more chance just may see them through. —

PAGE 30 ★ THE COLORADO STATESMAN ★ OCT. 5, 2012 “Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

...Obama ridicules Romney over Big Bird driving the deficit Continued from Page 20

gathered on his old stomping grounds, inside the house district he once represented. “I was so proud of the president,” he said. “First of all, he told the truth. And believe me, my friends, the truth counts. There was somebody else who showed up at that debate last night, and he apparently has remade himself. I call him the New Mitt Romney, the new Etch-a-Sketch candidate.” Ticking off a series of statements Romney had made during the debate, Peña engaged the crowd in a lengthy call-and-response. “Do you believe the new Mitt Romney?” he asked. “No!” they responded, again and again. The rally’s musical warm-up, Black Eyed Peas DJ, sounded a similar note, wrapping his early morning set with an extended remix of a Journey tune and repeating the song’s title, telling the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, don’t stop believing.” After arguing that voters shouldn’t believe what Romney said at the debate, Obama told the crowd, “I still believe in you, and I’m asking you to keep believing in me.” He also got in a dig at Romney for the one line from the debate that ricocheted around the Internet. “When asked what he would do to reduce the deficit, he said he would cut funding to public television,” Obama said. “That was his answer. Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. It’s about time. We didn’t know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit.” A member of the crowd shouted, “And Elmo?” Smiling, the president added, “Elmo too.” About a half hour before Obama took the stage, Romney popped up unexpectedly across town at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference under way at a hotel near Denver International

An estimated 12,300 attend a rally for President Barack Obama on Oct. 4 at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver. PHOTOS BY ERNEST LUNING/THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Airport. Joining four of his five sons on the CPAC stage, Romney said the debate had been “a great opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country.” One, he said, was an ever-growing government turning the country more like Europe. The other “is a path that returns America to America, where we restore the principles of freedom and hope and opportunity that this nation has always been built upon.” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams swung back at Obama’s remarks in a

statement issued before Air Force One had lifted off for another rally in Wisconsin. “In full damage-control mode, President Obama today offered no defense of his record and no vision for the future,” Williams said. “Rather than a plan to fix our economy, President Obama simply offered more false attacks and renewed his call for job-killing tax hikes.” —

“We know how to vote in North Denver, don’t we?” asks former Denver Mayor Federico Peña at a rally for President Barack Obama on Oct. 4.

New University of Denver poll shows Obama with a narrow lead in Colorado Voters overwhelmingly say Romney won first presidential debate The University of Denver, host of the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, released poll results late in the week that found President Barack Obama leading Governor Mitt Romney among likely voters in Colorado, 47-43. Four percent said that they would vote for someone else, and five percent noted that they remain undecided. The poll also found that President Obama is currently leading among independent voters, 48-31. Despite President Obama’s current lead in Colorado, respondents have improving impressions of Gov. Romney, according to the poll. Those who said that they watched or heard about the debate believe that Gov. Romney won by a huge margin, 68-19. That includes almost half of Obama supporters (47 percent), with just 37 percent of the President’s supporters saying he did the better job. In addition, 38 percent of likely Colorado voters said their impression of Gov. Romney is improving, while 18 percent of respondents felt the same way about President Obama. “Two important lessons from the polls are, first, there are very few undecided voters left in Colorado, and second, Gov. Romney has improved his position to win them over in the closing days of the race,” said University of Denver political scientist Dr. Peter Hanson. “President Obama is maintaining a narrow lead in the state, but the major question is how much movement we can expect in the polls in coming weeks with not many voters left for the candidates to persuade.” A huge majority of Colorado’s likely voters paid close attention to the debate. Eighty-one percent said they watched the debate and another 14 percent said they had heard about it. When asked an open-ended question about where the debate took place, 74 percent correctly identified the University of Denver (35 percent said “the University of Denver,” 21

percent said “Denver University,” and 18 percent said “DU”). Nationwide, the debate was viewed by 67.2 million people, according to recent Nielsen ratings. The debate’s major effect was reinforcing existing views of likely voters rather than changing them. Sixtynine percent of debate watchers became more strongly committed to their candidate, while only 7 percent became less strongly committed to their candidate. Five percent of debate watchers reported changing their minds. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said jobs and the economy were the most important issues in the election — and by a margin of 50-45, they said Gov. Romney would do a better job. Significantly, among voters who cited jobs and the economy as their top concerns, Gov. Romney leads President Obama, 5632. “The poll found a significant amount of polarization in the Colorado electorate in regards to the economy,” noted University of Denver political scientist Dr. Seth Masket. “Democrats are much more likely to see the economy and their overall economic situation to have improved over the past year. Republicans, meanwhile, have strongly negative views of the economy and their own economic situation over the past year. Independents are more likely to say that the economy has gotten worse over the past year.” Here are other key findings related to several issues specific to Colorado: • Immigration: Sixty-three percent of respondents favor a policy that allows illegal immigrants living and working in the United States the chance to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. Sixtyeight percent of respondents favor the President Obama’s policy to allow illegal immigrants who came

to the United States as children to obtain work permits and not face deportation. • Same-Sex Marriage: Seventy-three percent of respondents support legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Forty-nine percent of respondents support legalizing same-sex marriage, while 24 percent prefer to legalize civil unions. Twenty-three percent said no legal recognition should be given to same-sex relationships. • Marijuana Legalization: Fifty percent of likely voters said they support Colorado Amendment 64 to decriminalize marijuana, compared to 40 percent who oppose it. Twenty-one percent said it should never be legal, 47 percent said it should be regulated like alcohol and 28 percent said it should be legal for medicinal uses only. • Concealed Weapons on College Campuses: Forty-nine percent favor the current law allowing students to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, while 46 percent do not favor such legislation. Led by Dr. Hanson, Dr. Masket and J. Ann Selzer of Selzer & Company, the poll was conducted on Oct. 4 and 5 via telephone with 604 Colorado residents who are 18 years of age or older. To qualify as likely Colorado voters, respondents had to say that they live in Colorado and would definitely vote in the upcoming presidential election. Responses were adjusted by age, race, and educational attainment to reflect the general population based on recent Census data. The poll included a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. To view the complete poll findings and full description of the methodology, go to:

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