COLO. SPRINGS — There was a little bit of Texas swagger on stage in Colorado Springs last Saturday night as U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions — the Dallas Republican who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee — told a statewide GOP fundraising dinner that it’s up to Republicans in Colorado to make sure President Barack Obama doesn’t serve another term.
“We may not be Texans, but we have an El Paso of our own,” cracked state GOP Chair Ryan Call after Sessions spoke to a crowd of about 200 Republicans, including top officials from around the state, at the party’s Centennial Dinner held in El Paso County at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn claimed home-field advantage to introduce Sessions, who was Lamborn’s roommate when the Colorado Springs Republican first went to Congress.
“We still have to deal with Barack Obama, we still have to deal with Harry Reid. But at least we don’t have to deal with Nancy Pelosi,” Lamborn said, crediting Sessions with leading the GOP to a 65-vote majority in the House as head of the campaign committee devoted to electing Republicans to Congress.
Sessions heaped similar praise on CD 5’s Lamborn and on his fellow GOP congressmen at the dinner, U.S. Reps. Cory Gardner (CD 4) and Mike Coffman (CD 6) , and on the fourth Republican in the delegation, Scott Tipton, (CD 3), who departed for the Western Slope earlier in the day because of the long drive ahead.
“I am throwing down the gauntlet to challenge each of you that Colorado must continue to lead the nation,” Sessions said to the rapt crowd.
Sessions, who steered the Republican take-over of the House in the 2010 elections, laid it on the line for the activists, volunteers and congressmen alike in the audience.
“There is much work to be done, and I expect that we will win the next election, not only because of your work, but because America will recognize that Barack Obama must be a one-term president,” Sessions said.
He said the wide Republican majority in the House of Representatives has helped stop harmful legislation but lamented that a Democratic president and control of the Senate have likewise stalled GOP initiatives.
“The bills which we pass out of the House of Representatives never see the light of day as it relates to the United States Senate,” he said, blaming Obama and the Democrats for massive increases in the federal deficit and government spending as well as persistent high unemployment.
The two parties’ legislative records will give voters a clear choice next year, he said.
“We will win because the Republican Party is well positioned because of where we stand with the free enterprise system and the growth of jobs in this country,” Sessions proclaimed.
Then he talked about why he believes the Republican vision will prevail.
El Paso County Republicans U.S. Rep. Doug and Jeanie Lamborn, State House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, and Cheri and state Sen. Mark Scheffel gather round in the lobby outside the state GOP’s Centennial Dinner on Sept. 24 in Colorado Springs.
“You and I both know that there is no such thing as the Russian Dream,” he said. “You and I both know that there is no such thing as the Brazilian Dream. You and I know there isn’t a Chinese Dream. What the world knows and understands is it’s the American Dream, and the American Dream is alive and well around the world.”
This comparison brought whoops and cheers from the conservative crowd, which got plenty of specific attention from Sessions because of Colorado’s importance as a battleground state in the next election.
“Colorado is the gateway to winning the presidency, not just for keeping Congress,” Sessions said. “You need to understand this — when you spend time electing your members of Congress, you will ensure Barack Obama will be a one-term president.” That’s because congressional campaigns, he said, “lead the battle” block-by-block, in neighborhoods where statewide and presidential candidates never appear. Having even a “marginal” congressional candidate fighting for votes can add 7 percentage points to the top of the ticket, he said.
Call agreed and said the state GOP was “aggressively” recruiting candidates up and down the ballot for next year’s election. He promised The Colorado Statesman there will be strong Republican candidates in every district — legislative and congressional — although he demurred when asked who is considering runs against Democratic incumbents such as U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter.
“Colorado Republicans are absolutely committed to running a great, principled candidate in every district,” Call said. “That is our commitment. We will give voters a choice.” He added that candidates are ready to announce bids once congressional district lines are known, following resolution of a lawsuit that hits the courts later this month.
Earlier in the day, the state Republican Central Committee voted without much controversy to move up the GOP’s 2012 precinct caucuses from March 6 to February 7, the day after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses were scheduled.
(Later in the week, moves by Florida to advance its presidential primary to Jan. 31 set falling a stack of dominos that will likely see at least four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — move their presidential nominating contests into January to stay ahead of the pack.)
Speaking about Colorado’s move, which has been contemplated since earlier this summer when GOP officials said they wanted to consider the earlier date so that Colorado plays a part in selecting the Republican presidential nominee, Call was succinct: “Colorado is not Iowa.”
The change by the Republicans — Colorado Democrats are sticking with the March 6 caucus date — won’t be a game-changer nationally, but it will draw more attention to the state, considered one of the key swing states in the upcoming election, Call said.
“We think that moving up the date will help allow us to be part of the conversation, but we certainly don’t have any illusions that we will dominate it,” Call told The Statesman after the Central Committee vote. “We believe that moving up the date will create incentives for the various presidential campaigns to come to Colorado to compete for our votes, compete for the support of Colorado Republicans, and help us build the infrastructure, the volunteer base and the enthusiasm that will carry us through to victory in November.”
He said news out of Florida that afternoon that Georgia businessman Herman Cain had upset front-runners Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry to sweep a prominent straw poll shows the race is up for grabs.
“This is a wide-open nomination,” Call said, though he added that every Republican he had spoken with was “prepared to lock arms and support the eventual nominee,” a position he said he shares.
“Regardless of who the nominee is, whether it’s Rick Perry, or Herman Cain or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann, any of those candidates are going to be a clear difference from Barack Obama, and I’m excited to support whoever the nominee is,” Call said.