DENVER (AP) – President Barack Obama brought his jobs pitch to Colorado Tuesday, getting a warm but not boisterous reception in the city where he signed into law the sweeping stimulus plan more than two years ago.
Standing outside a high school in southwest Denver, in a struggling neighborhood dogged by high unemployment, Obama promoted his $447 billion jobs bill and tailored his pitch to the state. Colorado’s unemployment rate, at 8.5 percent, is slightly higher than it was in 2009 when the first stimulus package was signed.
Obama won cheers when he argued the money in the new measure would save teachers’ jobs and put others back to work.
“Pass this jobs bill and right here in Colorado, thousands of construction workers will have a job,” he said.
The president went on, “There’s folks here in Colorado who are living paycheck to paycheck, week to week. They need action. They need it now.”
As in other states, though, Colorado Democrats were enthusiastic but lacking the raucous tone of his appearances here in 2008, when Obama became the first Democrat since former President Bill Clinton to carry Colorado.
Democrats organizing the rally said 6,000 attended. However, the parking lot where Obama gave his speech was far from packed to capacity, and some students at the school were handing out stacks of free tickets to passers-by a few hours before the president arrived.
One of the Democrats at the speech, 54-year-old Dixi Gloystein of Denver, conceded that folks aren’t as excited about the president anymore.
“It’s four years later, and we’re in recession here. So yes, it’s ugly, it’s negative,” she said.
Another man at the speech, 47-year-old Mark Harrison of Denver, said he was excited about Obama’s visit but understood the frustrations.
“I was very enthusiastic when he came to office four years ago. Now, I’m still hopeful. But I haven’t seen all that I wanted to see from Obama,” he said.
Obama’s Denver visit was his last stop on a Western swing to raise money and talk up his jobs bill. The president was last in Colorado more than a year ago, at a private fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Both parties have said Colorado is a must-win in the presidential contest next year. They’re also in agreement in an unexpected way — both parties have said Obama will struggle to hang onto Colorado.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper attended the speech and said beforehand that the president has work to do here because of the lagging economy.
“He didn’t cause (the recession), but he’s getting blamed for it,” Hickenlooper said.
– By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)