DENVER—Mitt Romney returned to Colorado Sunday with 44 days left in the general election and in far better shape than he might have expected.
A rash of recent polls show Romney locked in a statistical dead heat with President Obama, despite the Democrat’s efforts to clinch Colorado with heavy advertising and multiple campaign appearances.
In the past seven weeks, the president has made four stops in Colorado to Romney’s one.
The Republican is seeking to make up for lost time this week with a two-day campaign swing, followed immediately by a visit from vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan.
Romney is slated to headline a rally Monday in Pueblo, while Ryan has a town hall scheduled for Wednesday in Fort Collins and a rally Thursday in Colorado Springs.
A feisty Romney rallied an estimated 7,000 supporters under the lights on the athletic field Sunday at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School, declaring that Obama’s economic prescriptions have failed and new leadership is needed to restore American greatness.
“He calls his campaign slogan ‘Forward,’” said Romney. “I think ‘forewarned’ is a better selection because what he’s promising is the things he’s done before.”
Romney said the president’s economic plan is to retry stimulus spending and tax increases, “and we don’t have to guess what the results will be–we’ve seen the results, we don’t like the results.”
“It’s very clear: He’s out of ideas and he’s out of excuses, and in November we’ll get him out of office,” said Romney.
He drew thunderous applause when he emphasized the importance of Colorado in the general election. “This is the state to do it,” said Romney. “I’m counting on Colorado this could be the state that takes us over the edge.”
Romney made his last Colorado appearance Aug. 2, also in Jefferson County, although his scheduled rally last weekend in Pueblo was cancelled due to a small plane crash at the airport.
At the same time, the Republican has sent no shortage of surrogates to Colorado during that time: Ryan has headlined rallies in Colorado twice, while son Josh Romney appeared last week in Golden. Daughter-in-law Laurie Romney spoke Friday at a “Women for Romney” rally in Lone Tree.
A Rasmussen Reports survey released Wednesday showed Romney up in Colorado by a margin of 47 to 45 percentage points, while a Quinnipiac Poll issued the same day showed Obama ahead by 48 to 47 percent. A survey released a week ago by The Denver Post showed Obama with a one-point lead.
If Sunday’s speech was any indication, energy independence will be a key theme for the Romney camp during the campaign’s final stretch. The Republican’s five-point economic plan starts with taking advantage of abundant U.S. supplies of oil, coal and natural gas.
“We have kind of an ace in the hole that came along to us because someone learned how to drill into the earth not just vertically but horizontally, so they can tap into oil and gas and so we have extraordinary resources in both of those sources of energy,” said Romney. “My plan is to make sure we take full advantage of oil, gas, coal, nuclear, renewables.”
He blasted the Obama administration’s moves to increase regulations on energy production and emissions. In its last vote of the session Friday, the House took a parting shot at the administration by approving the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012.
“The president has cut in half the permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters. I will double those licenses and permits,” said Romney. “I’ll make sure we drill in the outer-continental shelf and in Alaska, and I’ll bring in that pipeline from Canada.”
Romney has spent only a third of what Obama has on television advertising in Denver, according to a study by the University of Colorado News Corps, although the Romney camp is expected to take advantage of its cash reserves during the campaign’s final weeks.
The approach to date reflects a fundamental strategic difference in the campaigns. While Obama spent heavily early on in an effort to attempt to define Romney as a rich, out-of-touch venture capitalist, Romney has husbanded his resources in order to unleash a media blitz in the campaign’s final four to six weeks, when voters are paying more attention to the race.
An analysis by Colorado Peak Politics showed that the Romney camp has about $950 million to Obama’s $559 million.