© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Obama Ad Targets Conservative Strongholds in Colorado

President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law in Colorado in 2009 and has been back to campaign numerous times since
KUNC File Photo
President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law in Colorado in 2009 and has been back to campaign numerous times since

Some Coloradans were reminded this week of the state’s status as a battleground in this year’s presidential election when the Obama Campaign began airing its first TV ad here targeting the Grand Junction and Colorado Springs markets. 

Until now, much of the attention since the Colorado caucuses had been on the Republicans and primary battles in other states.  But that’s all about to change.

Ramping up Oil

The campaign ad in Colorado and other swing states is focused on energy.

“Under President Obama, domestic oil production is at an eight year high, so why is big oil attacking him,” it begins.      

Colorado Pollster Floyd Ciruli says the ad offers a sophisticated strategy. He says targeting conservative strongholds like Colorado Springs and Grand Junction with a response to rising gas prices is a way for the campaign to hold down the negative.  

“If you’re going to try and reduce your losses in Weld County and El Paso County and Mesa County out in Grand Junction, you have got to have a sympathy for gas and oil,” Ciruli says. “On the other hand, if you want to make sure you win this state, you also have to talk about renewables.”  

Which the ad goes on to do.  

“Colorado is uniquely positioned to look at and help provide the country with a whole array of energy,” says Carol Browner, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration and is now an advisor on energy to the Obama Campaign.  

Browner is quick to try to deflect criticisms from the right that the Administration is doing a convenient about-face on clean energy.

“Nothing has changed in the president’s commitment since he came to office and I think we’ve made some progress,” she says. “We need to build on what he’s done to date and I think you’re going to see a debate on that in the presidential election.”

Prices at the Pump

Browner cites new policies promoting fuel-efficient vehicles as one area of progress.  And while it’s true, as the ad points out, oil production has also been on the rise during this administration, much of that is due to an increase in drilling on private land, where the president has little purview. 

Think:  North Dakota and much of the Colorado Front Range.  

And despite his improving poll numbers, Mr. Obama is still quite vulnerable when it comes to high gas prices, says pollster Floyd Ciruli.    

“Not only do voters react very quickly to fuel prices, but as you know it could slow the economy and if it does, Obama is very much tied to the economy,” Ciruli says.

Recent polls have also shown the President ahead in Colorado from anywhere from 2 to 5 percentage points which has widely been attributed to the improving economy.  

But should those polls stay close, Ciruli says, Coloradans should be ready for even MORE ads – mostly negative.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
Related Content