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Obama, Palin create buzz

Sue Lindsay
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is now speaking at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Before beginning her stump speech, she spoke briefly about the financial crisis involving Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.

Then she proclaimed, “It’s gorgeous here!”



She introduced her husband, Todd, to loud applause, and proclaimed: “We’re going to Washington to shake things up.”

Security lines were long and traffic was heavy near the fairgrounds because of Palin’s appearance the “Country First” rally.



Because of the large crowds, organizers had to make two security lines in order to get people in by 9.

Colorado is a battleground state and both parties are stumping hard here – especially in Jefferson County – before November.

Several hundred people waited in line Sunday morning at the Barack Obama campaign office on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood for tickets to Obama’s speech Tuesday at the 2,500-seat Lockridge Arena at the Colorado School of Mines.



The campaign began giving out tickets at 10 a.m. at Obama offices in Lakewood, Arvada, Golden and Morrison.

One of the first to score a ticket at the Lakewood office was Cheryl Parrish, who said she arrived about 7:30 a.m. after working a 12-hour shift at a casino in Black Hawk. “I want to see him in person,” she said. “I want to see my future firsthand.”

Parrish said she spent her two-week vacation studying the candidates. “Obama’s record speaks for itself,” she said. “He has proven he’s a man you can believe.”

Tina Wilson, of Denver, was waiting in line for tickets with her mother and planned to take her 9-year-old daughter, Courtney, to the speech.

“She is so excited about this election,” Wilson said. “She watched the DNC and the RNC and came to her own conclusions based on what she saw. She feels her life is changing. It’s not just that he’s the first black candidate. It’s what he stands for,” said Wilson, who is black. “She just wishes she could vote.”

Lloyd Gerardot, a Vietnam veteran, said he respects John McCain’s service for his country, but “he really scares me with his policies and what he wants to do. Barack Obama is like another John F. Kennedy. I’m really excited to be a part of this.”

Debbie Bertram got the last ticket and was nearly in tears when she learned that only one ticket was left and she couldn’t get one for her 12-year-old son.

But the day was saved when campaign volunteer Jeff Haley gave her his wife’s ticket, explaining that he had instructions to do that “if someone just really needs a ticket. My wife’s seen Obama speak three times already.”

‘Ringing off the hook’

At the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, workers spent Sunday assembling the sound system and stage for this morning’s appearance by Palin.

The campaign ran out of tickets in eight hours, GOP officials said.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook and the line has been out the door and into the street,” said McCain regional campaign spokesman Tom Kise. “Unfortunately, the campaign has no more tickets to give away.”

The “overwhelming demand” prompted the campaign to scrap plans for a pancake breakfast and to change locations at the fairgrounds to the larger Westernaires Equestrian Center.

Workers were building a backdrop that included a large American flag as well as a sign with the McCain slogan “Country First.”

A pigeon flew overhead as workers crossed the soft dirt floor of the Westernaires arena while Al Green’s tune, Let’s Stay Together, played over the loudspeakers.

A volunteer meeting was planned Sunday evening, but Vanessa Thebaud, Palin’s press advance woman, said the meeting would be off-limits to media.

Palin arrived at Denver International Airport Saturday night, but spokesman Kise said Sunday morning he had “no idea” where she would be spending the day.

“She has a down day today,” he said.

Palin policy criticized

A sparse group gathered Sunday morning for a news conference by womens health advocates outside Denver police headquarters.

Fern O’Brien, former president of the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center and Project Safeguard, spoke out against what she called the “radical agenda” of the McCain-Palin ticket on issues important to women.

Specifically,the group blasted a policy in former Mayor Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, that required rape victims to pay for their rape kits in criminal investigations.

“We are appalled at the McCain-Palin ticket and what it represents with respect to women,” O’Brien said.

Nancy Osborn Nicholas, executive director of the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program, said government “can’t balance the budget on the backs of rape victims.”

Waffles for waffling

On the steps of the Capitol at noon, Michael Huttner, executive director of ProgressNow, dished out waffles and maple syrup to draw attention to what he called the Republican ticket’s “waffling” on key issues.

Huttner said he had just learned that the Republicans had scrapped plans for the pancake breakfast before Palin’s Jefferson County appearance.

“It appears they’re waffling on that, too,” said Huttner, holding a pitcher of batter.

Staff writer John Ensslin contributed to this report.

Whistle-stops

Campaign events to kick off the week in Colorado

Monday

* Sarah Palin speaks at a “Country First” rally at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. No more tickets are available.

* Former Colorado Lt. Gov. Gail Schoettler and former Colorado Hispanic Bar Association President Awilda Marquez address a McCain-Palin protest at 8 a.m. at West Sixth Avenue and Indiana Street near the fairgrounds.

* Barack Obama speaks in Grand Junction at the Cross Orchards Historic Site, 3073 F Road. Doors open at 9 a.m., and the event begins at 11 a.m. No more tickets are available.

* Obama also has a campaign stop at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. Doors open at 2 p.m. and the events begins at 4:30 p.m. The event is free to the public on a first-come basis, but people are urged to make a reservation by calling 719-778-9976.

Tuesday

* Obama speaks at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. No more tickets are available. Doors open at 7 a.m., and the event begins at 9:30 a.m.

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