Campaigns micro-target Colorado | VailDaily.com

Campaigns micro-target Colorado

David Montero
Rocky Mountain News

COLORADO – Just when it looked like Colorado was lost in the campaign trail dust of big electoral prizes like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, next week is turning the state into a political bull’s-eye again.

The two most charismatic figures in the race for the White House – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin – square off in the square state, seeking its nine electoral votes and hoping a domino effect will occur Nov. 4 in Nevada and New Mexico, the other prizes in the Western trifecta.

The Illinois senator will be in Pueblo and Grand Junction on Monday, while the governor of Alaska is going to be in the swing area of Jefferson County.

Not to be outdone, Obama’s campaign added another Colorado event; he will be in Jefferson County on Tuesday morning.

What does it all mean?

“We’re talking presidential gridlock here,” analyst Floyd Ciruli said with a laugh.

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The maneuvering shows micro-targeting in Colorado by the campaigns, Ciruli said. The polling is tight in Colorado, with the latest Fox News/Rasmussen poll showing Obama with a slim three-point lead.

Ciruli said Obama is hitting three big media markets – all interested in different issues.

The Western Slope voters, Ciruli said, will be looking for a message aimed at energy and environment while Obama will be trying to tap into a changing demographic along the Interstate 70 corridor.

For Pueblo, Ciruli said, the message should be about jobs and also about appealing to Latino voters. Jefferson County is a swing county that has leaned Democratic as of late, Ciruli said, helping to push Sen. Ken Salazar and Gov. Bill Ritter to victories.

Palin is looking to bring Jefferson County back into Republican hands. Her appearance at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, in fact, marks a repeat of 2004 when Vice President Dick Cheney hosted an event there while helping deliver Colorado to President Bush.

Bush carried the county in 2004 by more than five points.

“Her biggest job is to use her charisma to motivate the grass roots,” Ciruli said. “In Jeffco, they’re hoping to firm up the base with the enthusiasm she brings and that she will attract some of those voters who haven’t settled on someone yet.”

Palin has lit up the base in Colorado.

Her appearance with John McCain in Colorado Springs a week ago drew 10,000 people on short notice. Her campaign had to scrap plans to serve a pancake breakfast during Palin’s appearance Monday, saying the demand for tickets was so great there wasn’t enough room for tables and chairs to accommodate 5,000 people.

Tom Kise, spokesman for the McCain campaign, said Palin will help deliver the message that people who voted for Democrats Ritter and Salazar in Jefferson County won’t want to support Obama.

“I would say there are stark differences between Bill Ritter, Ken Salazar and Barack Obama. They are not the same type of Democrats,” Kise said.

“I don’t believe either Ritter or Salazar would say they are bitter and clinging to their guns or their religion,” Kise said. During the primaries, Obama said residents of small-town America “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” out of bitterness over lost jobs.

The McCain campaign also is having a grand opening of an office as well as a precinct walk today in Fort Collins – an area both parties believe is key to winning the state and a demographic that’s pretty evenly divided between the two parties and unaffiliated voters.

Obama’s appearance at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo is a chance for him to connect with Hispanic voters.

In Colorado, the Obama campaign is targeting the 100,000 Hispanics and 30,000 blacks eligible to vote but not registered, as well as independents and women who have been sometimes-voters.

Obama spokesman Matt Chandler said the issues facing those in Pueblo County – a region that went to Sen. John Kerry in 2004 by six points over President Bush – don’t necessarily hinge on race.

“Like many across the state, Latinos care about putting food on the table, getting their kids to college and tackling the economic crisis,” Chandler said. “Voters in Pueblo County and throughout the state are suffering under Bush-McCain policies.”

Ciruli said the candidates’ visits next week cement Colorado’s status as a battleground and are “the icing on the cake.” But he said that status was established when both campaigns launched a flurry of television ads in Colorado.

“A presidential visit can be worth a percentage point or two and what the campaigns are looking for isn’t just the coverage, but equally important, both are enthusiasm-builders for the volunteers,” Ciruli said. “For the campaigns, that enthusiasm is critical.”

Sarah Palin’s rally

* 9 a.m. Monday: Westernaires Arena, Jefferson County Fairgrounds

* Tickets: No longer available. More than 5,000 were claimed by 4 p.m. Friday

Barrack Obama events

* 11 a.m. Monday: (Change We Need event), Cross Orchards Historic Site, Grand Junction

* Tickets: Free, first come, first served, starting at noon, Saturday. Two ticket limit per person.

* Pick-up location: Western Slope Regional campaign headquarters 844 Grand Ave., Grand Junction

Obama in Pueblo

* 4:30 p.m. Monday: (Change We Need rally), Grandstand, Colorado State Fairgrounds, Pueblo

* Tickets: Not needed but RSVPs encouraged online at http://www.co.barackobama. com

* UPCOMING:

Jefferson County appearance : Details to be released this weekend.