ASPEN - GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will return to the Roaring Fork Valley on Thursday for an afternoon appearance at Basalt High School, Republican officials announced Tuesday.
The event will start at 3:15 p.m., according to a recorded phone alert from Romney supporters. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 2 p.m., and volunteers are urged to show up at the high school at 10 a.m.
Romney visited Aspen on July 9 for a private fundraiser at the home of Susan Crown and her husband, William Kunkler. The former Massachusetts governor's campaign reportedly raised $2.5 million at the event.
The Associated Press reported that Romney wrapped up a weeklong trip to Europe on Tuesday. The trip included a stop in Poland, where he said Poland's economy is a model of small government and free enterprise that other nations should emulate as they struggle with the recession.
Pitkin County Republicans who were gathered at Aspen's Hotel Jerome for the party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser applauded Tuesday evening when they heard the news about Romney's upcoming campaign stop.
"We just had the privilege of having Mitt Romney in Aspen on July 9, and he's coming back," said Frieda Wallison, chairwoman of the Pitkin County GOP. "He will be doing a public event at Basalt High School in the large gymnasium, and we want to fill it. We want to give him a Roaring Fork Valley welcome."
Wallison, a delegate to the upcoming Republican National Convention who has pledged her support to Romney, said some members of the Basalt audience will be allowed to pose questions.
"This is a very special event because he will also be with some of the other governors who are here for the Republican Governors Association's executive roundtable," she said. "So not only will you see our next president, but you will also see several sitting governors who will join him."
Wallison issued a call for volunteers to assist with Romney's scheduled appearance.
"In addition to getting VIP seating, you will be served lunch. You will be fed," she said.
She said that while the event is open to the public, it wouldn't hurt to contact organizers at www.romneycolorado.com to try to secure a good seat or to volunteer.
The keynote speaker for Tuesday's Lincoln Day Dinner was Gov. Scott Walker, of Wisconsin. Walker, 44, is considered a national GOP darling after surviving a recall effort in early June following his controversial actions to repair the state budget in 2011.
Walker, who was born in Colorado Springs, spoke of the intensity of the recall effort and the national media attention it generated. But he also used some of his 29 minutes at the podium to voice support for Romney and to bash President Barack Obama.
He said like Colorado, Wisconsin will be a battleground state in the Nov. 6 presidential election and that it's imperative that state Republicans get involved.
"I think he's on the right path, and I think we're going to see it at the convention," said Walker, who began his gubernatorial term in January 2011. "I think people want to hear the truth because they're not getting it from Barack Obama."
He pointed out that when Obama was on the campaign trail in the summer of 2008, as the U.S. recession was becoming more widespread, he promised to fix the economy.
"Yet we've had 41 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent," Walker said.
"This was a candidate who back in 2008 said he was going to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term and hasn't even come close to that," the Wisconsin governor continued.