DENVER–The Romney campaign is doubling down on capturing Colorado’s nine electoral votes amid speculation that President Obama may have moved the Centennial State to the back burner.
Both presidential candidates are planning to speak at rallies in Colorado this week after the third and final presidential debate Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. But that’s where the similarities end.
The Romney campaign has scheduled a flurry of high-profile events this week, culminating in a rare joint appearance with the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison.
Ryan plans to spend three days in Colorado: He arrived Sunday in Colorado Springs for a rally, followed by campaign events Monday in Pueblo and Durango before settling that night at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction to watch the debate on television.
House Speaker John Boehner is expected to join Ryan Monday at Fort Lewis College in Durango, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a top Republican draw, campaigned for the ticket Sunday in Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy stumped Saturday for Romney in Colorado Springs.
Meanwhile, Obama isn’t scheduled to arrive until Wednesday for a rally at Denver’s City Park. So far no other top Obama surrogates are slated to visit Colorado, although vice-president Joe Biden did speak to about 1,000 supporters in Greeley last week.
The post-debate schedule comes days after a report in National Journal said the president is “circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada,” while showing less interest in the other four swing states–Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia–where Romney has seen gains in recent weeks.
The Obama campaign has denied any change in strategy, according to The Hill. Of the four states now leaning toward Romney, Colorado is seen as the least predictable.
“Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states [Florida, North Carolina and Virginia] and now consider wins likely, although not guaranteed, in all three. They [Romney advisers] are similarly upbeat about prospects in Colorado, but not confident enough to predict victory,” said National Journal in its Oct. 17 report. “That [Obama adviser David] Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.”
Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli told 9News Sunday that he believes both presidential campaigns are still heavily invested in winning Colorado.
“I don’t see either party at this point backing away,” said Ciruli. “They have invested tens of millions of dollars in Colorado this year.”
Polls show the candidates running neck-and-neck in Colorado, with Romney holding a slight advantage. In 2008, Obama won Colorado by a margin of 54 to 45 percentage points.
At the Colorado Springs rally Sunday night, Ryan emphasized the Republican ticket’s concern over proposed cuts in defense spending.
“Of all the areas where Mitt Romney and I are different from President Obama and Joe Biden– we are not going to gut our military,” said Ryan to a crowd of about 1,000 at the Jet Center.
Former Denver Mayor Federico Pena, an Obama campaign co-chair, held a press conference before Ryan’s rally to criticize the Romney ticket on economic policy.
Both campaigns have emphasized the importance of getting out the vote. Mail-in ballots were sent out last week, and early voting begins Monday. Voters are permitted to cast ballots at designated early-voting stations until Nov. 2, four days before the Nov. 6 election.
About 70 percent of Coloradans vote before Election Day, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.