With election day less than two weeks away, Colorado is continuing to get a lot of love from both presidential campaigns, and for good reason: The state is divided. This fact was evidenced yesterday by a massive City Park rally for the president less than 24 hours after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan packed Red Rocks.
Amid the final countdown, the stump speeches delivered by the candidates in Colorado give a clear picture of how they think they can best court the swing state voters that will decide the race.
"This is the second stop on our 48-hour marathon, extravaganza, fly-around," Obama told a big crowd standing outside in the cold, cloudy weather yesterday afternoon. "We are pulling an all-nighter. No sleep. Quite a bit of coffee. We've just come from Iowa... After this, we are on our way to visit Nevada. We're going to go to Florida. We're gonna go to Virginia. We're gonna go to Ohio. And I am going to stop in Chicago to vote before this 48-hour day is done."
If there's one thing the candidates can agree on, it's that Colorado really is a crucial battleground that will play a major role in deciding the next president -- a refrain present in rallies by both sides. Early voting in the state began this week, and the campaigns are competing for headlines and positive attention here as election day approaches.
At Red Rocks on Tuesday, where Kid Rock and Rodney Atkins warmed up the crowd, a capacity crowd packed into the outdoor theater, and campaign officials say that there were over 26,000 requests for tickets, which meant that folks were turned away at the door once police declared the facility at capacity.
The Obama campaign appears to have drawn a comparable crowd, with the official count estimated at more than 16,000 inside City Park.
And awe at the crowd size -- coupled with compliments of Colorado's scenery -- have become standard talking points at these rallies.
The attention that the Red Rocks rally received this week was not lost on Obama's Colorado surrogates, who emphasized the large turnout at City Park before the president arrived.
Mayor Michael Hancock, in the kickoff speech for the rally, shouted, "Guess what? We didn't need Kid Rock or Rodney Atkins to bring out the crowd!" Governor John Hickenlooper later added, "Holy smokes, what a crowd! Wow, I can't tell you, you know I love Red Rocks more than just about anybody, but it could never hold all of you guys."
Speaking just miles from the site of the first presidential debate -- where the president's poor performance dealt a significant blow to his campaign, Obama yesterday emphasized Romney's flip-flops in the final debates, painting his opponent as one who just can't be trusted.
Continue for more from Obama's speech and photos from the rally. "You've heard now Governor Romney's sales pitch. He's been running around saying he's got a five-point plan for the economy," Obama said, prompting boos from the crowd and offering a nice segue to his "Don't boo -- vote!" line. "It turns out it's not a five-point plan Governor Romney's got. It's a one-point plan. Folks at the very top can play by their own rules...and if this plan sounds familiar, it's because we tried it. We tried it.... It led to the slowest job growth in half a century.... We've been working for four years to clean up the mess that these policies left behind. And Governor Romney knows this. He knows his plan isn't any different than the policies that led to the Great Depression. So in the final weeks of his election, he's counting on you forgetting what he stands for."
The president continued, using a recently coined word that has gotten a lot of play in the Obama campaign, saying, "He's hoping that you too will come down with...Romnesia. He's hoping you won't remember.... He's hoping you'll come down with a severe case of Romnesia...but don't worry, Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions."
The line prompted one of the loudest cheers of the rally.
Perhaps responding to Romney's argument that Obama's campaign has been reduced to "silly word games," Obama said, "Now, we joke about Romnesia, but all this speaks to something that is essential to your choice, and that is trust.... What you were voting on [in 2008] was somebody who you felt you could trust to work for you, to keep you in mind every single day. Trust matters.... I think you've seen, Colorado, over the last four years: I mean what I say. I do what I say I'm going to do."
He said, "Every single day that I set foot in the Oval Office, I'm fighting for your families."
The president rattled off his list of promises kept, including cutting taxes for the middle class and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. "We've got a long way to go Colorado, but we've gone too far to turn back now."
Echoing what Michelle Obama told a crowd in Castle Rock earlier this month, the president presented his candidacy as the choice for so many different constituencies.
"You can choose to turn back the clock fifty years for women, immigrants and gays, or in this election, you can stand up for that basic principle that we are all created equal," he said. "No matter who you are, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, here in America, you can make it if you try."
The rally yesterday marked the president's fourteenth trip to Colorado as president -- including twelve political events this year.
And early in his speech, the president suggested that this won't be the last traffic jam he causes in the state between now and November 6.
"I've come back to Colorado -- and this may not be the last time you'll see me," he said.
Continue for more photos from the rally. Continue for more photos from the rally. More from our Politics archive: "Photos: Ten Obama supporters on whether he can recover from his Denver debate"