COLO. SPRINGS – The word spread on Sunday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was coming to Colorado Springs– but few elected officials here knew of his visit.
After a rally in Grand Junction, Romney flew to Colorado Springs and was greeted by El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark and county Treasurer Bob Balink at the city’s private airstrip, Jetport.
They each said Romney was surprised not to see Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, but they went ahead and presented briefing papers about the devastation caused by the Waldo Canyon fire and the impact on the tourism industry.
Of her meeting with Romney, Clark said, “I felt like I was speed talking but I talked and he listened.” She said Romney asked if there had been enough airplane support to fight the fire. Clark said yes, helicopters dropped water on spot fires and homes to protect them, and in later days, the C130 planes had dropped fire retardants.
Reps. Bob Gardner and Kent Lambert praised the firefighters for working with the available equipment but both said it was greatly lacking, particularly in air support. They cited the loss of planes due to the Obama administration that put off buying planes for more than a year until several fires were burning in Southwestern United States and less than two weeks before the Waldo Canyon blaze erupted like an inferno on the west side of Colorado Springs.
Romney visited the Care and Share facilities where he helped package food for firefighters and evacuated families. By now, the private visit went public and media surrounded the Republican presidential candidate.
”People in the immediate community, of course, can bring in canned goods,” Romney told the media. “But what can people that are from Boston and New York and Chicago do? Well you can come to Colorado and vacation this summer.”