Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Dick Wadhams, Colorado's former GOP boss, on state's swing status

As the Democratic National Convention gets under way in Charlotte today, it's impossible not to recall Denver's time in the spotlight as the host of the 2008 DNC -- and contemplate its role as a key swing state in this campaign.

Dick Wadhams was the chair of the Colorado Republican Party in 2008, which gave him a unique perspective then...and now.

"I look back and I think how fun it was to be a state chairman when a national political convention was coming to town," Wadhams remembers. Especially when he could enjoy the spectacle -- and comment on it for the national media -- without having to organize it.

And although Wadhams isn't the state chair now, he's still watching the Democratic convention closely. He thinks the Dems are going to rue the choice of Charlotte for a convention, since unlike Colorado, it doesn't look like North Carolina will go blue this year. "They're going to get no kick out of that at all," he says. "I do think that four years ago, coming to Denver helped them carry Colorado. Would have they anyway without the DNC? Probably...but it helped them win by the margin they did."

And Colorado could play a key role again this year. "This state is truly a toss-up, and it's going to be right up to the end," Wadhams observes, noting that swing voters in the suburbs of Jefferson and Arapahoe county "want to vote for Romney, but he hasn't made the sale yet."

But Romney still has one big opportunity to sell those Colorado voters, Wadhams points out: the first presidential debate, which will bring the campaigns back to Denver on October 3 -- and which Romney is already prepping for this week, while the Democrats gather.

To win Colorado with that speech, Romney "needs to establish himself as a reasonable alternative," Wadhams says.

And just a dozen days later, on October 15, Colorado's ballots will start dropping.

Read about Michael Roberts's encounter with Wadhams at the 2008 DNC in "Dick Wadhams on the loose."