DENVER (AP) – No matter who wins Tuesday, Colorado Republicans have a big victory on their hands. They moved their presidential caucuses up a month and crossed their fingers that the GOP contest would still be up for grabs.
It worked. And Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum campaigned in-state Tuesday to ask for last-minute support.
“You’ve got a big caucus tonight,” Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, told a crowd in Colorado Springs.
Romney spoke to several hundred people at an RV dealership in Loveland, appealing to religious conservatives.
Romney won Colorado’s 2008 caucuses with 60 percent of the vote and was expected to come out on top Tuesday. The former Massachusetts governor planned a celebration Tuesday night in Denver.
Reliable polling has been spotty in Colorado, but Santorum, who campaigned heavily here after losses in other states, was believed to be gunning for second place. Newt Gingrich campaigned in Denver’s suburbs Monday, while Ron Paul visited the state last week.
Colorado’s caucuses are open to the public, though only registered Republicans can participate in choosing candidates. The party won’t choose most of Colorado’s 36 delegates to the Republican National Convention until a state assembly April 14, but the caucuses are an important measure of candidate support.
Local races and the party platform were also up for discussion.
Party officials kept an eye on the weather as they prepared for an estimated turnout of 70,000 to 80,000 people. A few inches of snow fell early Tuesday in much of the state, from Denver to the Saguache Mountains in southwest Colorado. Forecasters said most of the state could expect clear skies with temperatures in the high teens and low 20s by 7 p.m. caucus time.
Santorum was endorsed by Focus on the Family leader James Dobson, former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo and former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton. Romney was backed by all three Republicans currently holding statewide office: Attorney General John Suthers, Secretary of State Scott Gessler and State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, as well as state House Speaker Frank McNulty and former Gov. Bill Owens.
- By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press
Tuesday’s Republican caucuses begin at 7 p.m. Party members are asked to arrive at least 30 minutes early and to bring an ID. To participate, you have to have been a registered Republican by Dec. 7 of last year and lived in your precinct for 30 days. Visit the Colorado Republican Party website for more information.
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