DENVER— From the stall of my pre-Hillary pee at Aurora’s Radisson hotel, two middle-aged women can be heard talking about how they scored tickets to see the woman they’re convinced will be the first female president of the United States.
“I heard they only went to the big-time volunteers,” said one, washing her hands. “Top callers, you know, people like that.”
“Well, that makes sense. I’ve probably knocked 400 doors,” replied the other.
Indeed, volunteers had first dibs for the event, which drew several hundred to a sweaty ballroom where the entire top of the Democratic ticket lined up to introduce one another introducing Hillary Clinton.
Clinton happily stumped for each of them — saying U.S. Sen. Mark Udall had a big heart but a spine of steel and calling Gov. John Hickenlooper’s record second to none. She dismissed both men’s Republican opponents — U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner for Senate and Bob Beauprez for governor.
“It appears to me that the campaigns being run against (Udall and Hickenlooper) depend on the voters of Colorado having a mass case of amnesia,” Clinton said to laughter. “Somehow just forget the accomplishments, forget the leadership that brings people together …”
The real thrust of Clinton’s speech, however, built on three decades of global leadership concerning women’s rights. At a U.N. conference on women in 1995, Clinton said: “It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights.”
Today, she applied that message to the Colorado U.S. Senate race and critiques that Udall’s campaign has focused too heavily on reproductive rights. She noted that Colorado women were the first in the nation to win the right to vote by popular amendment — some 20 years before women’s right to vote became law of the land.
“While some may wonder why Mark Udall has stressed women’s rights in his campaign, I want you to understand that as far as I’m concerned and as far as Mark is concerned, when he’s fighting for women’s rights he’s fighting for freedom,” Clinton said.
“Women’s rights are like the canary in the mine; if you start going after women’s rights, you start preventing women from being fully responsible for their own decisions, then you’re on a slippery slope. If women’s rights are denied or rolled back anywhere, it’s a threat to everyone’s rights, everywhere,” Clinton concluded to loud cheers.
Though she headlined the show, Clinton was preceded by the top of the Democratic ticket in Colorado, something congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff made light of as anticipation built.
“Is it just me or does it seem like you’ve got to listen to a lot of guys before you get to hear the woman you’ve been waiting for?” joked Romanoff to huge cheers from the crowd.
Romanoff, on his home Aurora turf in Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District, spoke easily with the crowd. He criticized his opponent, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman, for his back-and-forth on immigration reform.
“I read that Mike Coffman met some immigrants,” said Romanoff to sounds of incredulity from the choir. “I know, you can’t make this stuff up. Well, he can.”
Romanoff then slammed Coffman for opposing the Senate’s immigration-reform bill, taking the opportunity to highlight the work of Udall and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet on that very issue.
After touching on what has become a critical issue in the CD6 race as the district morphs into a much more diverse place, Romanoff pivoted to a “better together” message.
“At the end of the day, this election … is about innovation, it’s about optimism, it’s about entrepreneurship, it’s about whether Colorado remains the kind of place where an unemployed geologist with a funny name and a goofy sense of humor can pick himself up, dust himself off and put a neighborhood and a city and a state back to work,” he said.
Hickenlooper rode into that endorsement with unemployment figures released earlier in the day — 4.7 percent, down from 9.1 percent when he took office. After a campaign marked by speculation about Hickenlooper’s lost mojo, the quirky incumbent seemed to have at last regained control of his message, at least for a home-team crowd. He touted a narrative of struggle, with a particular focus on the recession and historic natural disasters, overcome by Coloradans willing to work together.
“We now have the No. 1 workforce in America,” said Hickenlooper. “We’re now the No. 1 fastest-growing economy in America.”
Udall, whose breakneck re-election race against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner will top the ticket in Colorado, was the last to take the pre-Hillary stage.
“The stakes could not be higher,” said Udall of his election, calling it the closest in the nation and telling the supporters gathered to forget the polls and hit the streets.