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Photos: Barack Obama talks women's issues, health care in Denver

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If Barack Obama wins Colorado, he'll win the election.

That's what the president said today in a campaign stop in Denver -- and based on the focus of his speech, it's clear that his campaign believes women's issues are a key component of the battle to secure votes in this crucial swing state.

"We are not going back to the days when it was acceptable to charge women more than men for the same health care," Obama said today, speaking to a crowd of roughly 4,000 at the Auraria Events Center.

As we noted earlier today, it's become clear that Obama's campaign is emphasizing women's issues like access to contraception as a major strategy to defeat Romney. It's a tactic that helped Colorado Senator Michael Bennet beat Republican challenger Ken Buck in 2010.

Today, the campaign brought out Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown law student who Rush Limbaugh called a slut and a prostitute, to push this part of his platform. (The Colorado team of his campaign brought Eva Longoria to Wheat Ridge earlier this summer to promote women's issues as well).

The president's campaign stops in Colorado this week come on the heels of Romney's visit to the state last week -- making it clear just how important this swing state will be in November. Obama has been to Colorado nine times since the start of his presidency, and just this summer, he's been here twice, first in response to the devastating wildfires then to greet victims of the Aurora theater shooting.

While Romney focused on middle class issues, and some Obamacare bashing, Obama spent most of today's speech talking about women and health care.

"For me, it's been intensely personal," Fluke said at the start of her speech. "Because when I was publicly attacked for speaking out before members of the Congress, I became more aware then ever that this election will decide whether the rights that generations of women have fought for will be rolled back. And make no mistake about it, those rights can be rolled back -- and in the blink of an eye. But thankfully, we have a president who has consistently...proven that he will defend our rights, especially our rights to quality, affordable health care."

Page down to see more photos and read more of Obama's speech. After taking the stage, and thanking Fluke, calling her "one tough and poised young lady," Obama took some time to address the Aurora theater shooting and the Sikh temple shooting that happened over the weekend.

He did not mention anything specific about gun control policy.

"It's been two-and-a-half weeks since I was last here in Colorado," Obama said. "Unfortunately, since that time, we've had another tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six members of our community were killed as they entered into a house of worship. So I think we can all acknowledge, we've got to put an end to this kind of senseless violence...whether it's in Oak Creek, whether it's in Tucson, whether it's in cities all across America where too many lives are cut short because of senseless violence.... As one American family, we're gonna have to come together and look at all the approaches that we can take to try to bring an end to it."

He then transitioned to health care talk, praising the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, earning him boisterous cheers from the audience (similar to the loud applause Romney got when he told a Colorado crowd that he would repeal it).

"I delivered on my promise to pass health reform before the end of my first term.... The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. I actually like the name, because I do care," Obama told the crowd inside the venue that sported a large banner reading "Women's Health Security."

"This is a choice between two fundamentally different paths for our country's future," the president said.

He added, "When it comes to a woman's right to make her own health care choices, they want to take us back to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century. Colorado. You've got to make sure that does not happen."

Because of the president's health reforms, his campaign says over 868,600 Colorado women will now have access to free preventive care such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and pap smears, without any cost-sharing. Starting at the beginning of this month, insurance companies also began to cover eight new women's health services, including well-woman visits, contraception and breastfeeding support.

"Insurance companies...can no longer drop your coverage when you need it most," Obama said. "They can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions."

He later added, "I don't think a working mom in Denver should have to wait to get a mammogram just because money is tight."

Obama ended his speech emphasizing the importance of Colorado. "I still believe in you, and if you still believe in me, I'm asking for your vote," adding, "If we win Colorado, we will win this election.... We will finish what we started." Page down for more photos from the rally. Page down for more photos from the rally. Page down for more photos from the rally.

More from our Politics archive: "Photos: Ten people in Denver on why they came to see Obama speak"

Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin. E-mail the author at Sam.Levin@Westword.com.

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