With less than 100 hours left before the polls close here, Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t taking any chances on losing Colorado, where the race for president has tightened in the past week.
Friday, the surrogate who has known her the longest, her husband (and former President) Bill Clinton made three stops in Colorado: a morning stop in Pueblo, an early afternoon rally in Denver and a late afternoon event in Fort Collins.
Clinton’s visit was part of a whirlwind of appearances by Clinton surrogates throughout the metro Denver area as the political season heads into its final weekend.
In addition to President Clinton’s visit, the brothers Castro (U.S. Rep. Julio and state Rep. Joaquin of Texas) were scheduled for a “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) appearance in Longmont Friday. Planned Parenthood national president Cecile Richards headed to the Clinton office in southeast Denver for a Friday afternoon appearance.
On Saturday, actresses Kate Walsh (Bad Judge, Fargo) and Michaela Watkins (The Groundlings, Casual) are scheduled for a canvass kickoff in Wheat Ridge, and Lena Dunham (Girls) and America Ferrera (Superstore, Ugly Betty) will appear at a GOTV event at the famed LGBTQ nightclub Tracks, also known as the EXDO Event Center, located in Denver’s River North (RINO) neighborhood.
That’s where President Clinton greeted a capacity crowd of around 1,000 Hillary supporters early Friday afternoon.
As a disco ball flashed lights around the room, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette came to the stage, telling the crowd “it wouldn’t be a presidential election in Colorado without Bill Clinton in the last five days!” But this time, it’s for his wife, the first woman president, DeGette said.
The line of dignitaries continued, with Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as warm-up acts. Hancock referred to Clinton as “the baddest dude to occupy the White House and future First Gentleman of the United States.”
The 42nd President spoke without notes, sharing Hillary’s plans for the nation and warming the crowd with humor. His remarks were interrupted only once, by a man who shouted “Bill Clinton is a rapist” and who was quickly hustled out of the event center. Clinton heard the shout, turned toward the man, and then gave a brief, sad smile. “I understand your anger, but answers are more important than anger,” he said to the protestor.
Referring to Trump supporters who have made Hillary a target for insults and even death threats, Clinton urged, “I want you to not treat them the way they treat us.”
Clinton referred to Trump, although not by name, several times during his speech, and brought up Trump’s question to African-Americans, “What have you got to lose?”
It’s about 32 million jobs, Clinton retorted, pointing to a record 73 straight months of job growth under President Barack Obama. He also talked about Hillary’s plan for reducing student college debt, by allowing those who take out small business loans to waive payments of student loans for the first three years of that business.
His voice sometimes hoarse, Clinton also took on Trump’s most recent ads that have said Hillary Clinton has been in charge for 30 years. That will come as quite a surprise to presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and President Obama, Clinton joked, adding that the 30 years would even include the last few years of President Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
“Choose between fact and fantasy,” Clinton said. “Call someone every hour” to make sure they’ve voted.
“We need a leader who will bring people together!”
Among those who greeted the former president were some who remember him fondly from his time in the White House. Elementary school teacher Belinda Walker, who said she “adores” the former president, said “He was the best president, next to President Obama.”
Wally Baldenzo of Denver wanted to hear Clinton speak in person. “I’ve heard he’s a great speaker, and now that I’ve heard him, it’s true!”
Monica Ibancie-Ruiz, an account executive, said she recently saw Clinton on TV and wanted to see him live. Ibancie-Ruiz has been walking her Park Hill neighborhood on behalf of Democratic candidates. “I was happy to volunteer for once in my life, and get involved,” she said.
Clinton stayed for more than 20 minutes after the end of his speech, shaking hands and taking photos with supporters who still fondly remember his presidency.
Photo by Allen Tian, The Colorado Independent