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Obama wins mountains of support in High Country

Harriet HamiltonSummit County CorrespondentVail, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen TimesPrecinct members raise their hands to vote for Democratic candidates at a caucus held in Aspen on Tuesday evening.
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SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as they did in Vail and throughout Colorado scored victories in caucuses in ski resorts and other towns across the High Country.In Summit County, Democrats and Republicans crowded into the largest local caucuses in history and chose Obama and Romney, winners of the statewide vote, in Tuesdays presidential preference poll.Parked cars and trucks filled the lot at the Summit County Community and Senior Center where local Democrats held their caucus and spilled over into neighboring streets all the way to the County Commons building. At the Holiday Inn in Frisco, local Republicans jammed around tables as hotel employees brought rack after rack of extra chairs into the conference.

Gray heads may have predominated at the Republican meeting, but more than a few young people were visible in the crowd.Im here to support Ron Paul, Breckenridge resident J.J. Ilseng said. Pauls presence in the race was the reason the pony-tailed young man showed up for his first ever caucus.The decibel level at the Senior Center, in marked contrast to the Republican meeting, never dipped below a dull roar. Rather than vote by secret ballot, Colorado Democrats express their preference with an open vote, and, in more than one precinct last night, the vote was shouted.Blue River resident and caucus first-timer Rayanne Harris said even though she could barely hear a word spoken at her precinct table and her candidate didnt win, she was very glad she came.I really felt like I was contributing, she said.Pitkin County showed heavy support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Tuesday night. Obama won 77 percent of the vote while Hillary Clinton garnered 22 percent.I think hes unquestionably the most charismatic person on the political scene that weve had for years, said Jim True, a longtime local who cast his vote for Obama. I like his policies. I like his beliefs. He can win.Nearly 500 other Democrats voted Tuesday in a hot, crowded Rio Grande Meeting room near the Pitkin County Courthouse.At Pitkin Countys Republican caucus, Romney and McCain tied with 47 votes each. Relative newcomer Melanie Sturm said she moved to Aspen from Washington, D.C., where I frankly didnt have much of a voice, and was elected captain of her precinct. She said she felt proud to be part of this process in America.Obama and Romney also got the most votes in caucuses in Grand County, home to the Winter Park ski resort, though not everyone thought the first-term senator from Illinois was ready to be commander in chief. Hes very charismatic, I think hell be a wonderful vice president, Democratic Sandy Doudna said at one of the countys caucuses. Obama won big and Romney by a tighter margin in an around Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat Springs resident Bob Pensack, speaking to more than 450 registered Democrats at the high school, compared Obama to former President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.He stirs in me the same kind of passion and hope, Pensack said. He has the ability to unite all of us for the betterment of our country.At a Republican caucus, Steamboat Springs resident Alvin Skiles said he supports McCain because the veteran lawmaker is better prepared than Romney to deal with terrorism. Skiles said that while Romney might be better at managing the nations economy, economic policy wouldnt matter in the event of a terrorist attack.John will protect our economy by protecting U.S. soil, Skiles said.Jerry Foster, 66, who attended the Republican caucus in Glenwood Springs, said this was the first time hed participated despite having lived in Colorado for a large part of his life. He said it was amazing to see how caught up people at the caucus and across the state were in the presidential election.The American people are totally fed up with the people in Washington, Foster said at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. The politicians are clueless.Colorado Mountain News Media reporters Joel Stonington, John Colson, Tonya Bina and Phillip Yates, and Steamboat Springs Pilot & Today reporter Mike Lawrence contributed to this report


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