9:55am

Wed January 25, 2012
Politics

President Obama Returns to Colorado on Western Swing

President Barack Obama will make his third appearance in swing-state Colorado in six months when he touches down for a brief speech at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora Thursday. 

It's no coincidence that Mr. Obama's venue of choice is in Arapahoe County, according to pollsters who weigh in this morning on the Denver Post's politics blog the Spot.  In fact, we can expect to see the president and whoever the eventual GOP nominee is stump often in Denver's swing suburbs in the coming months. 

The cities of Denver and Boulder are reliable enclaves for Democrats in statewide races, so political analysts say most races come down to the more "purple" areas such as Fort Collins or several counties that ring Denver.

Indeed, metro area counties such as Arapahoe, Jefferson and Adams have swung to the left in recent elections due in part to changing demographics, as Democrats and the President have aggressively courted the Hispanic vote.     

But unlike Mr. Obama's most recent visits to Colorado, the new energy economy will top his agenda this week. 

Colorado's green sector has sputtered lately, with concerns of more layoffs at some of the region's larger solar and wind manufacturing plants as demand has slipped in part due to China's rise on the green scene. We can no doubt expect Mr. Obama to address these concerns here tomorrow while again touting the sector's potential for jobs. 

Calls like those are long overdue if you ask Coloradans who work in the sector.  

"I think everyone in the country from the car industry to others is seeking ways to regenerate jobs in the United States," says Laurent Meillon, who runs a local solar-thermal energy company.    

Meillon won't get to attend Mr. Obama's speech since it's closed to the public.  But he told me this week that if he had the president's ear, he'd make a direct pitch for the untapped benefits of solar-thermal power in states like Colorado.

"We're in a time where obviously our president needs to focus on economic recovery and job creation," Meillon says. "And solar thermal works surprisingly well with that plot."