McCain makes Colorado a mainstay

John McCain really likes Colorado.

After visiting the Centennial State three times in July, the Republican candidate for president will be back in Aspen this week for a fundraiser with deep-pocketed Republican donors. There is no word if he has other campaign events planned.

John McCain at a town hall forum in Denver in July. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

John McCain at a town hall forum in Denver in July. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

McCain’s numerous campaign stops in Colorado come at a time when his Democratic opponent Barack Obama, who visited the state once since July 1, is seeing his once large polling lead in Colorado decrease.

But political experts said that although McCain’s heavy campaigning in Colorado could be helping him gain appeal among voters, it’s not as simple as writing the state off just yet.

“I would posit that Obama’s camp is figuring he will get so much press here over the week of the DNC that he would do better to stay away for a while and attend to other states,” said Colorado State University political science professor Kyle Saunders. “On the other hand, McCain is trying to gain momentum in a state that he desperately needs to win in November and he knows that he will basically be off the air for a week during the DNC. Now, will that stand up through (the) convention and its concomitant press coverage? We shall see.”

The McCain campaign said Colorado has been an important state for the Arizona senator and will continue to be a place he will focus on.

“Colorado is an important state,” said Tom Kise, regional communications director for McCain. “While Barack Obama has only stopped in Colorado on occasion to speak to small groups of invited elite Democrats, John McCain has held an open town hall meeting (in Denver) in order to hear concerns from residents in addition to his other campaign stops.”

In addition to his town hall meeting, McCain was in Denver last month addressing the annual convention of the GI Forum before heading to Aspen to meet with the Dalai Lama, and touring a manufacturing plant in Aurora.

In contrast, Obama visited Colorado Springs in early July to speak to 200 people at a closed event where he highlighted the need for public service.

“There is no question that Colorado is a battleground state and we expect this to be a very tight race and we’re taking nothing for granted,” said Matt Chandler, an Obama spokesman. “That’s why we have devoted serious resources to Colorado. This campaign is taking Colorado very seriously and we’re committed to talking to voters in every corner to the state. In terms of the Senator’s travel, we can expect to see Senator Obama talking to voters and fighting hard here in Colorado from now until Election Day.”

Just how much time and attention to put toward each battleground state is always a hard question for presidential campaigns to answer and this year is no different though, Saunders, the CSU professor said.

“Both camps have their fingers on the pulse of this critical state, but let’s remember both Obama and McCain have other competitive states that need attending to in the context of the national campaign,” he said. “Where to be and how to allocate resources are but a few of the strategic considerations campaigns face. One of the presidential candidates’ roles is to lead their party, and one of the ways they best do that is to travel around to help to activate each partisan base so that they will work hard for the party, not just the presidential candidate, in the campaign to come.”

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Jason Kosena

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