COLORADO SPRINGS — While our colleagues covered yesterday’s caucus in Nevada as Romney pulled away with a solid win, UW Election Eye reporter Jason Gilmore and I arrived in snowy Colorado to lead our coverage of the Centennial State’s caucuses on Tuesday.
Our first stop was the evangelical stronghold of Colorado Springs, where Mitt Romney flew in for a “plum-packed” (in the words of one volunteer) rally late Saturday afternoon and quickly staked a confident claim to the Republican voters there.
Romney was introduced by his new Colorado “grassroots chairman,” former GOP state vice-chair Leondray Gholston, a U.S. Navy vet, with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.
Mounting the stage as sunlight filtered through the hanger-like space at Springs Fabrication, smelling of oil and machined parts, Romney then took solid aim at President Obama, spinning a recent, positive jobs report his way. He was also dismissive of the real impact of some federal stimulus grants, one of which went to the plant.
Saying that he was “delighted that things are getting better,” Romney said that the credit was due to working Americans, and not the White House, which he said has engaged in “crony capitalism.”
He didn’t touch on local issues, but spoke in broad strokes about his “love for America” and desire to “unleash the genius of the American people.”
The crowd of polar-fleece-and-blue-jeans-wearing supporters was sprinkled with veterans in this home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Romney got a big roar of approval when he said he’d not cut back military spending.
Dale, a 20-year resident of Colorado Springs and a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, said that “the politicians have gotten us in trouble,” and that “what we need is businessmen.” She said her connection to Romney comes through an old mutual friendship with Ann Romney.
Not wanting her last name public because of that connection and because she works for a nearby county’s health- and human-services department, Dale described the palpable presence of an undercurrent of economic anxiety in the state.
Some of the people she helps were once “lower middle class,” or have had college-grads come home to land in a tough job market, and are worried about the future, she said, as they’ve turned increasingly to state aid.
She is a Mormon, but said that that’s not what draws her to Romney; instead, it’s his “principles and integrity.”
Tuesday will be her first caucus.
“I’m excited [to participate] because I’ve been complacent,” she said. Romney, she says, was popular here before, in 2008, and will be again.
Photographer Jason Gilmore created this post’s slideshow.