DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will address the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night. Before he left Denver he talked with CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.
The convention in Charlotte, N.C. this week brings back a flood of memories for the governor. Four years ago, as mayor of Denver, he hosted the event.
“I look back now to how nervous I was before the convention in 2008,” Hickenlooper told Boyd. “To be perfectly blunt, I’m glad I’m not putting on the convention this year.”
But he is playing an important role. He’s one of a select group chosen to speak.
“I was a little surprised. Anybody in Colorado knows I’m not noted for my fiery speeches or my electrifying stage presence, so clearly they weren’t picking me to launch missiles.”
He speculates it may be his business background, but admits Colorado’s battleground status doesn’t hurt.
“We are not only geographically in the center of the country, but we are in the center of the presidential debate,” he said. “I am proud that Colorado isn’t necessarily partisan in the traditional sense of the word.”
There is much to be proud of in Colorado and Hickenlooper says he welcomes the opportunity to tell the rest of the country what the state is doing right.
“My hope is that we can talk about the role that Colorado has been playing in educational reform or health care reform and economic development.”
Still, a lot of people remain out of work. Colorado’s unemployment ticked up slightly last month to match the national average. Hickenlooper admits the economy isn’t good, but insists it’s getting better, despite what the numbers show.
“Businesses are still in business, right? And they are, however slowly, still hiring people, and we’ve got a tremendously long way to go, but there’s every reason to be optimistic.”
Expect that optimism to be conveyed in his speech. President Obama needs to rekindle the fire of 2008 and Hickenlooper can help. As a moderate he appeals to Independents who will decide this election. Many are wary of Obamacare and Hickenlooper understands.
“The untold story of the health care of Obamacare is governors are going to have to make a bunch of hard decisions.”
He says they are decisions that are long overdue.
“For 25 years we’ve been saying we have to control the costs in health care. After 25 years everyone has been kicking the can down the road, no one takes it up.”
He says it’s not the “hope” and “change” election of four years ago, but his speech will make the case the president deserves another term.
“Given the circumstances he’s done a remarkable job of assembling a unbelievable team in his cabinet and really heading off what could have been multiple catastrophes.”
The governor admits he’s nervous about his first national address, but he says it could be worse.
“I’d much rather be speaking and not be behind the eight ball.”
Hickenlooper says the mayor of Charlotte consulted with him on several occasions to discuss the planning of this year’s convention. The governor’s advice was to over-plan and expect the unexpected.