Donald Trump to make campaign stop in Greeley on Sunday
October 28, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will make a stop in Greeley on Sunday, his second in northern Colorado in less than a month.
Rumors about a Trump visit swirled around the Greeley campus Friday, before UNC officials issued an addendum to an e-newsletter for employees and students about 4 p.m. announcing the university had rented the Bank of Colorado Arena at Butler-Hancock Athletic Center to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.
The e-newsletter was issued to give students and employees as much advance warning as possible that the rally likely would affect parking and traffic on the west side of campus on Sunday.
Late Friday, Trump's campaign website updated his official schedule to reflect the visit to UNC, slated to begin at 4 p.m.
In mid-October, Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., made stops in Colorado at the Centennial Gun Club in Centennial and The Sink in Boulder. Trump's other son, Eric Trump, came to Greeley on Oct. 11.
On Oct. 3, about 7,500 Trump supporters packed the Budweiser Events Center, which is just miles west of Greeley in Loveland, as the candidate talked up the importance of Colorado's energy industry and assured supporters he would emerge victorious in the purple state.
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Recent polls have shown Clinton clearly in the lead in Colorado. The Real Clear Politics average of polls showed Clinton with a 6.2 percentage point lead over Trump in a four-candidate race including Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party's Jill Stein.
Denver-based independent pollster Floyd Ciruli said Trump and his surrogates have been spending so much time in Colorado lately because campaign advisers have come to the conclusion that Colorado is essential.
"They have pretty much decided they can't win the presidency without Colorado," Ciruli said, noting that while Trump trails in Colorado, it looks like his best shot. "At the moment, it may be 5 or 7 points out, but that's still closer than Virginia and a number of other states. They really need these 9 electoral votes."
Additionally, Ciruli said, Trump's campaign advisers believe Colorado is a place where he can make headway.
"He remains convinced that both Republicans and working-class voters here will come out for him and vote for him," Ciruli said. "I think he's convinced that Republicans, who have not united behind him completely, are likely to do that. I think he remains optimistic."
Ciruli pointed out that the polls in Colorado have largely moved in sync with the national polls.
"We have a very educated population that is following the national media," he said, noting Colorado has leaned slightly Democratic, making Clinton's lead slightly larger in Colorado than in the U.S. as a whole.
Still, Trump advisers believe it's in play, he said.
"This race has been tightening," Ciruli said. "I think he is convinced that if he can get this into a 1 or 2 part margin nationally, it will be very possible to win here."
Anne Kern is the second vice chairwoman for the Weld County Republican party. She said Trump's stop in Greeley will be excellent for Weld Republicans.
"A lot of us went over to the rally in Loveland," she said. "That was a large crowd. I can imagine packing Butler-Hancock full with people supporting Trump."
Weld County has been a frequent stop for GOP campaigners in recent years, including then-president George W. Bush in 2006, who campaigned on behalf of Congressional candidates, and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in 2012. Kern said it's a logical choice for Republican candidates.
"We're one of the largest conservative counties in the state," she said. "We tend to draw the Republican candidates because we're a pretty strong Republican stronghold."
With a game-day capacity of 2,734, Bank of Colorado Arena is a smaller venue than the Budweiser Events Center. Still, it has played host to high-profile political candidates in the past.
UNC has previously rented out the arena to Democrat Joe Biden, when the then-vice presidential candidate visited in 2008.
"As a public university, we make our facilities available for such events when they are not scheduled for university use," the UNC e-newsletter read in part. "UNC is unequivocally committed not only to free speech and freedom of expression but also to being a welcoming and inclusive community."