Obama Campaigns On GOP Turf In Colorado

President Obama is in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Colorado. The Rocky Mountain West is a key battleground area in the November election. A new poll shows the president leading Mitt Romney among women in the state but trailing his Republican rival among Colorado men.

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National surveys show President Obama pulling a bit farther ahead of Mitt Romney - three or four points in some of the averages of surveys. But the election is decided state-by-state, and within those states, political pros slice the vote into demographic groups. In the battleground state of Colorado, the president leads among women, but Romney leads among men. The president focused on women voters in Denver yesterday, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: An oversized banner at the Denver rally advertised women's health security. And while the event was open to the public, the Obama campaign deliberately packed the crowd of 4,000 with members of local women's groups. Just in case anyone missed the point, the campaign invited Sandra Fluke to introduce the president. The Georgetown Law School graduate became a lightning rod earlier this year when she spoke up in favor of insurance coverage for birth control.

SANDRA FLUKE: Even though it's 2012, we're still having the debates that we thought were won before I was even born, debates about access to contraception and whether a woman has the right to make her own health care decisions.

HORSLEY: President Obama's health care law requires most insurance plans to provide free coverage for birth control and other preventive measures. Mr. Obama criticized Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who wants to end federal funding for all family planning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When it comes to a woman's right to make her own health care choices, they want to take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century.

HORSLEY: Romney announced his own outreach effort yesterday called Women for Mitt. The group is chaired by the candidate's wife, Ann Romney.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Mr. Obama leading Romney among women in Colorado. But Romney has an even bigger advantage among men, putting him ahead in the poll statewide. Outreach to women and Latino voters helped Democratic Senator Michael Bennet win Colorado two years ago, bucking a national trend of Republican victories. Yesterday, Bennet told a crowd in Grand Junction, Colorado history might repeat itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET: We know something about winning tough elections here in Colorado. Isn't that right?

HORSLEY: Grand Junction, on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, is traditionally Republican territory, though more than 2,000 supporters filled a stuffy high school gym to hear the president. Mr. Obama is back on GOP turf today in Colorado Springs, home to a large number of religious conservatives. Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki notes even though Mr. Obama lost these parts of Colorado four years ago, he kept it close enough, even in GOP strongholds, to carry the state.

JEN PSAKI: We're not saying that we're going to make up a 20-point deficit. But we know that for every voter in Colorado Springs, every voter in Grand Junction that comes our way, that's another vote in Colorado towards getting us over the finish line there and towards getting us towards the 270.

HORSLEY: That's the number of electoral votes Mr. Obama needs to hold on to the White House. Psaki and other Obama staffers were asked repeatedly this week about a controversial TV ad produced by a pro-Obama superPAC. The ad features a steelworker who suggests his wife died without health insurance because he was laid off by a company taken over by Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital.

The Obama campaign neither criticized the ad, nor took responsibility for it. But Mr. Obama was not shy about criticizing Romney's economic plan, saying it would give tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the middle class.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

OBAMA: They've tried to sell this whole trickle-down tax cut fairy dust before. And you know what? It did not work then. It won't work now.

HORSLEY: When a crowd here chanted four more years, the president said he will get that time in office if he wins Colorado.

Scott Horsley, NPR News, Pueblo, Colorado.

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