DENVER– One year and a day after signing his $787 billion federal stimulus bill into law with U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (and a host of other major Democratic players) by his side at the Museum of Nature and Science here, Pres. Obama returned and helped Bennet raise $675,000 for his re-election campaign. The President attended two fundraisers with Bennet.
Obama spoke to a crowd of about 2,700 at the packed Fillmore Auditorium then moved on to a swanky cocktail party at the downtown Sheraton.
Obama, acknowledged the anniversary of the stimulus bill and defended it as a key factor in the recovery.
“It wasn’t a politically easy decision to make — for any of us — because we knew that we were already facing big deficits that had been run up over the last decade,” Obama said. “But we had a responsibility to do what was right for the American people and break the back of this recession, which was slipping into a depression.”
Outside the Fillmore Colorado medical marijuana advocates protested a series of recent raids conducted by the federal Drug Enfoecement Administration, including a major bust at a Highlands Ranch home, where agents seized more than 200 plants. The legality of the raid has been questioned, especially coming after Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, announced in the fall that people engaged in marijuana operations in line with state laws would no longer be pursued by federal authorities.
The Sheraton cocktail event, held in the hotel’s ballroom, drew around 400 people who paid a minimum $1000 each. They sipped wine and chowed steak-on-a-stick or $paid 15,000 to take special standalone photo with the President.
“Now you need to fight for [Bennet],” Obama said at Thursday’s event. “The fact is, this is a tough political environment. There are still millions of people out there who are struggling. Understandably, people are scared. Sometimes when people are scared, politics can get rough.”
Bennet is facing a primary challenge from former Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff said he respects the president and pointed out that he, like Obama and unlike Bennet, is refusing to accept contributions from political action committees.
State GOP chairman Dick Wadhams told the Denver Post he wasn’t worried about Obama’s fundraising efforts on Bennet’s behalf. It would ultimately prove a good thing for Republican candidates running against Obama’s policies, he said.
“President Obama will do for Michael Bennet what he did for Creigh Deeds, Jon Corzine and Martha Coakley . . .[he’ll help them] lose!” Wadhams told the Post, referring to failed Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
A recent poll has Bennet trailing the GOP’s top candidate, former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, by 14 points.
Obama touted Bennet as a champion of the middle class and of children, saying he expected him to become one of the country’s “most outstanding” senators.
“We’re just accustomed to falsehoods and exaggerations and slash- and-burn politics,” he said. “We’ve got a Washington where every day is an election day. Michael Bennet and I don’t have time for that nonsense. We’re going to keep doing everything in our power to turn this economy around.”
Obama arrived in Colorado around 2:45, landing at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora where he was greeted by top state Democratic lawmakers. He departed less than four hours later for his next fundraising event in Nevada at around 6:20 pm.