The Democratic National Convention won’t exactly be in friendly territory when the curtain rises in Denver on Monday. Colorado is one of the hottest battleground states in the country, and as pundits point to the West as a critical region for the next president to win, the Centennial State, with its nine Electoral College votes, is rising to the top of the list.
Barack Obama was declared the Democratic nominee for president on Wednesday in Denver after the New Mexico delegation stepped aside to allow Obama’s former rival, Hillary Clinton, to ask delegates to name him the first black presidential candidate from a major party.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, one night before he is to appear at Invesco Field at Mile High to a massive crowd.
Top Western Democrats took the podium at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Wednesday, highlighting the region’s resurgence in the party. Few, though, made reference to the region they call home. From Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., to Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Wednesday night featured some of the biggest Democratic names in the West.
As gas prices rose, so did John McCain’s popularity. That’s no coincidence, agreed a panel of environmental thinkers gathered a few blocks away from the Democratic National Convention in Denver. And, they said, that’s the Democrats fault. “Average people paying $4 at the pump were saying, ‘OK, what’s the plan?’ and there wasn’t a plan,” said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a former two-term governor.
The Latino vote has never been as important or as heavily sought as in this election. That’s particularly true in the West, where critical battleground states also have large Hispanic populations. “The Latino vote is going to elect the next president,” says Federico Peña, the former Denver mayor and member of President Clinton’s cabinet who serves as co-chairman of Obama’s campaign.
Thursday may have been Barack Obama’s turn to light up the Democratic National Convention, but it was Colorado’s day in the sun. “It’s fitting to have the eyes of the nation on Colorado,” said Rep. Mark Udall, whose father Mo made an unsuccessful presidential bid and addressed the Democratic National Convention 32 years earlier. “It’s fitting that the change we need in Washington starts here in the Rocky Mountain West.”
The Democratic National Convention is in the West, and to at least some degree, the West is in the convention. As Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper greeted the delegates, he made much of the West and the lessons it offers Democrats – and not necessarily the ones you’d expect. “Remember,” Hickenlooper said. “There were a lot more barn-raisings than there were shootouts in the Old West.”
Marge Paraham wasn’t expecting Barack Obama to stop by her T-shirt stand in downtown Denver. And he didn’t. But it sure looked like he did. Meet Gerardo Puisseaux, a Cuban immigrant who shares Obama’s striking appearance, even his charisma, but not his gift for words. Not in English, anyway. Puisseau speaks mostly Spanish.