DENVER (AP) – The birth of Bill Clinton’s granddaughter kept him away from Colorado on Saturday, but the former president lent his voice long-distance to the campaign to re-elect the state’s two top embattled Democrats, Sen Mark Udall and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Clinton had been scheduled to appear with both candidates at a Udall fundraiser, but he called in from New York instead after his daughter Chelsea Clinton gave birth to her first child, Charlotte.

“I hope I get an excused absence,” Clinton told the Denver crowd via speakerphone. “My family just got a little bigger, and I figured I should stay home where I’m really needed.”

Udall and Hickenlooper need all the help they can get as they fend off challenges from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and former Rep. Bob Beauprez, respectively. Each race is deadlocked in recent public polls.

Clinton still delivered his 11-minute speech to the fundraising lunch at the Brown Palace Hotel, praising the incumbent Democrats and heaping scorn on their challengers.

“You’ve got a fine senator. You’ve got a fine governor,” Clinton said. “They’ve really done things to make Colorado better.”

All four major party U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates addressed the Asian Community Public Policy Forum in Denver shortly after the fundraiser. Gardner and Beauprez emphasized the state’s economic pain, while Hickenlooper and Udall argued that things are turning around.

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– By Nicholas Riccardi, AP Writer

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