In a leafy neighborhood on the outskirts of Denver last night, supporters for Hillary Clinton crowded the living room of former U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar for the kind of grassroots get together organizers said will be key to winning the March 1 Colorado caucuses.
Besides Salazar, on hand for pro-Hillary speeches were Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Lorella Praeli, a former undocumented immigrant who directs Latino outreach for the Clinton campaign. Former Gov. Roy Romer and ex-Denver Mayor Wellington Webb made the rounds among a smattering of Democratic lawmakers, politicos, lawyers, lobbyists, retirees and young people who ate from a buffet and drank Tecate beer on the lawn.
In the summer Hickenlooper had donated to the Clinton campaign, but as recently as this month he’d also made headlines for “expressing doubt” about her amid continued controversy over her use of a private e-mail server in her role as secretary of state.
Some at the Denver event didn’t know if Hickenlooper had yet officially endorsed Clinton for president, although he is a clear supporter. The governor himself downplayed such formalities.
“That level of politics doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to. In the old days you used to go up on a stand and they’d make a festival out of it,” he said. “Nowadays you just write the check, do an event.”
And speaking to supporters here in Denver, the governor left little doubt that he believes she’s the best presidential candidate in 2016. He’ll be caucusing for her, he said, and he and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who is up for re-election in 2016, have been strategizing on what they can do to help Clinton win.
“Let’s be frank: There’s only one candidate in either party who is ready to be president on day one. Who is it?” Hickenlooper asked the crowd. “Hillary,” they shouted back.
“This state has a history of recognizing that women have an equal part in every decision and every responsible role,” he continued. “We were the first state way back in 1890 when we, by the vote of the people, made sure that women could vote, right? Colorado. So, you know, if anybody is going to break this glass ceiling and smash it into a million pieces, it’s going to be Hillary Clinton without a question.”
Later, speaking to reporters, the governor mentioned the Oct. 13 Democratic debate in Las Vegas as something of a turning point for the Clinton campaign against her closest rival, the Independent U.S. senator from Vermont.
“Bernie Sanders touches the soul of a lot of Democrats. He connects to them in a strong way. With a certain group of Democrats he connects very powerfully,” Hickenlooper said. “I think in the debate you really got a sense of who Hillary was, and I think a lot of people who had been saying ‘Well, I really want to support Sanders’ really didn’t see him as effective or that he’d be as good a president as Hillary.”
The governor also riffed on at least one Republican in the race.
“I think that his campaign has lost a lot of momentum,” he said of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “From my perspective, when you lose momentum in those campaigns it’s hard to get it back. In the same sense Hillary Clinton has picked up a lot of momentum in the last month, and I think that’s going to lift her up.”
As supporters filtered out of the Salazar home following the event, they walked past Hickenlooper’s 2014 campaign manager Brad Komar who now heads up Clinton’s Colorado effort.
“Meetings like these are what wins a caucus,” he said.
Photo credit: Corey Hutchins