2 Colorado GOP Voters Discuss Stimulus, Obama

President Obama signed the stimulus bill Tuesday in Colorado, a traditionally red state that nonetheless supported him in November's election. Steve Inskeep talks with two Republican voters there: Steve Leich voted for Obama and Reeves Brown did not. Both worry the stimulus package doesn't do enough to create jobs, but they continue to support the president.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's no accident the president would sign his economic measure in Colorado. That's a Republican-leaning state that Democrats won last November. So we called two of the Republican voters that Obama courted.

Mr. STEVE LEICH (Attorney): My name is Steve Leich. I'm 56 years old, an attorney practicing in Grand Junction, Colorado, a registered Republican. I voted for Obama.

Mr. REEVES BROWN (Executive Director, Club 20): My name is Reeves Brown. I'm executive director of Club 20, a coalition of all the counties in Western Colorado. I voted for John McCain in the election.

INSKEEP: We reached these two Colorado Republicans on the same morning that Air Force One headed for their state. Reeves Brown was just arriving at work.

Mr. BROWN: I'm going to be in the office here in just a second, and if you could give me 60 seconds to open the door.

INSKEEP: We will do that. Steve Leich was seeing his family out the door.

Unidentified Female: I love you.

Mr. LEICH: I love you too. That was my daughter leaving for school.

INSKEEP: And both these Republicans talked about the new president and his economic plan. Mr. Leich, maybe you can start.

Mr. LEICH: I have to wait to see how the package plays out. Eight hundred billion is a lot of money, and when you have 537 people all wanting to spend it, it's not going to all go in one direction.

INSKEEP: Well, now let's bring in Reeves Brown, who voted for John McCain in November. Mr. Brown, what are you thinking about as you look over this economic stimulus plan?

Mr. BROWN: Well, I'm trying to remain cautiously optimistic about the potential for President Obama. I'm not very enthused about this stimulus bill, but honestly, I'm not an expert on world economics, much less national economics either.

INSKEEP: I don't think anybody's an expert on the economy we have at the moment. But let's just talk about the way it looks from where you are and what stands out for you in this combination of spending increases and tax cuts. Do you see any of it affecting Western Colorado, the area that you serve?

Mr. BROWN: Well, there will be, there will be. There's, as Steve mentioned, there's a little something for every community in there. I'm not sure, though, that our elected leaders on both sides of the aisle viewed this challenge through the lens of creating jobs as much as they did growing budgets.

I look back, you know, at the CCC projects that were done, that build the Colorado National Monument…

INSKEEP: Oh, the Civilian Conservation Corps from the Great Depression.

Mr. BROWN: Exactly, exactly, I mean, and that was entirely focused on creating projects that created jobs. When you look at the line items of the stimulus bill, it looks like a lot of increases in a lot of budgets.

Mr. LEICH: And that is my concern too. This is Steve Leich, and I am concerned that we don't fund it by turning on the printing presses and through taxes, and I am concerned, as is Reeves, that it's just going go to projects and not create jobs.

Mr. BROWN: This is Reeves. My son, he's 13, asked me yesterday - we were (unintelligible) about the stimulus bill and he heard it on the news, and he asked me, said is this going to put you in debt because of your tax dollars? And I said no, it's going to put you in debt.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LEICH: That's what I tell my son. I tell him my children and my children's children.

Mr. BROWN: But we have to do something, you know, and I don't mean my comments to sounds critical of the president. I think it's way too early in his presidency to cast any kind of verdict or judgment on the president. So I remain cautiously optimistic that he is the right man for the job, and I give him my full support.

INSKEEP: Is it true that although you are both Republicans, you both turned up at a Barack Obama campaign event last year in Grand Junction, Colorado?

Mr. LEICH: This is Steve Leich. I sure did, and I went there with my teenage daughter, who also wanted to go.

INSKEEP: Mr. Brown?

Mr. BROWN: Yes, absolutely. It was an historic event.

INSKEEP: It seems that President Obama, in that campaign, persuaded one of you, did not persuade the other. I wonder if you were just asked if you approve of his performance so far, where you gentlemen would fall right now.

Mr. LEICH: Well, this is Steve Leich, and I will say yes, he's become presidential in less than a month after having been inaugurated, and I view him as a leader and hope and believe our country views him as a leader.

Mr. BROWN: This is Reeves. I am equally satisfied and pleased with the job that he's done. He has my support today, and I'm pleased with what I've seen thus far.

INSKEEP: And what are you hearing from your friends, gentlemen?

Mr. LEICH: Some of my moderate Republican friends are optimistic. I've only spoken to one or two people convinced that he's going to fail within the next two years.

Mr. BROWN: This is Reeves. Your question assumes I'm going to have any friends left after being…

INSKEEP: Associated with this conversation and outed as someone who showed up at an Obama rally?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BROWN: I've been very frustrated, as I know Steve has as well, just in the ratcheting up of partisan politics, and a lot of my Republican friends view the president through a partisan lens, and I don't know if President Obama will ever be able to do enough to win their support.

I can't find a Democrat friend who is not pleased with what President Obama has done for them. I think they all feel that he has lived up very much to the expectations they had for him.

INSKEEP: Reeves Brown, Steve Leich, Grand Junction, Colorado. Thanks very much.

Mr. LEICH: Thank you very much, Steve.

Mr. BROWN: Thank you. Have a nice day.

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