Obama to highlight a ‘New Era of Service’ during Colo. Springs visit

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is set to appear in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, where he is expected to deliver a speech highlighting a renewed call to national service.

The morning event, at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus in northern Colorado Springs, is by invitation only. The audience will include active military personnel, as well as what campaign spokesman Matt Chandler described as those serving in the nation’s other essential services — the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and ROTC.

The purpose of Obama’s visit to Colorado Springs — first announced last Friday — was not detailed by his campaign until late Tuesday afternoon. Obama’s visit reportedly also will include a $1,000-per-person fund-raiser and possibly a visit to one of the region’s five military bases, though any details of additional planned events have not been released to the media.

Obama’s Colorado Springs stop comes less than a week after 1972 Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern stumped for him in the state’s second-largest city — and a week after a Quinnipiac University poll put Obama in a five-point lead over Republican John McCain in Colorado, a battleground state.

The visit also comes a week after Focus on the Family founder James Dobson attacked Obama during Dobson’s June 24 radio broadcast, accusing the senator from Illinois — who has been reaching out to evangelicals — of "distorting" the Bible, of governing by the "lowest common denominator of morality" and having "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

Obama rejected Dobson’s assertions as "making stuff up."

In the past Dobson has been considered a Republican presidential kingmaker — with many GOP hopefuls coming to Colorado Springs to seek his approval. The timing of Obama’s visit this week led to some speculation that a meeting between the Dobson and Obama would actually transpire. One prominent Colorado Springs attorney, who asked not to be identified, said he was repulsed by the idea; Obama volunteer Bob Nemanich, meanwhile, said he’d "fall out of his bed" if he thought that was really in the cards.

However, John Morris, the chairman of the El Paso County Democratic Party, had a different take.

"I think that would be a great idea," Morris said, of the prospect that Obama would be willing to meet not just with Dobson but with other evangelical leaders in the traditionally Republican stronghold. "The more he can [confront] Dobson, and not let him live in his ivory tower, the better.

"There’s a lot of opportunity in this town," said Morris.

Obama’s Wednesday speech at the CU-Colorado Springs campus is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.

The McCain campaign, meanwhile, has announced at least one upcoming Colorado event. On Aug. 14 the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will appear at an Aspen Institute-sponsored gathering in Aspen.

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