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Ritter Meets the Press

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Talk about Cool Biz! Governor Bill Ritter was apparently very, very serious when he and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper whipped off their ties last Thursday to show how sincere they are about saving energy in government buildings this summer with their Cool Biz initiative. Because when he went on Meet the Press yesterday with Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, Ritter kept the tie off -- even though it was apparently chilly enough in Jackson Hole, where the Western Governors' Association was meeting, that the fireplace on the impromptu set boasted a nice blaze.

Guest host Tom Brokaw, out of retirement to stand in for Tim Russert through the election, kept his cool as he put two of the West's much-ballyhooed Democrat governors through their paces, talking about the importance of the Rocky Mountain West in the upcoming election and, before that, the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver next month.

Ritter touted the number of "independent thinkers, independent voters" in the West -- and espcially in Colorado, where recent polls already show Barack Obama up 5 percent over John McCain, despite the fact that Republicans in this state officially outnumber Democrats.

Ritter also got in plenty of plugs for new energy, cleaner old energy, and hosting "the greenest convention since the invention of electricity" (except that few delegates will use good, old-fashioned horse power to get here). When Brokaw asked about evangelicals in Colorado Springs, Ritter even suggested that some of the religious right might vote Democratic, since they consider stewardship of the earth as "a sacred trust."

When Brokaw asked about Ritter's own pro-life personal beliefs, the Colorado governor pointed out that in the West, Democrats "embrace people with different views -- I'm a great example of that." As evidence, he noted that he ran unopposed in the 2006 primary -- conveniently ignoring how many party regulars kept beating the bushes for someone, anyone (including Hick, his Cool Biz buddy), to run against Ritter.

But that was then, and this is now in the Rocky Mountain West, the region that could well swing the next presidential election. With no ties attached. -- Patricia Calhoun

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