Obama returning to Grand Junction, with Colorado vital in race

Jeff Varnadore of Florida sells Barack Obama buttons as a ticket line forms Monday at the president’s re-election campaign headquarters in a shopping center along U.S. Highway 6&50 near Mesa Mall.

President Barack Obama will fly into Grand Junction on Wednesday afternoon for a campaign rally at Grand Junction High School, where his campaign said he would lay out a plan “to restore middle-class economic security in Colorado.”

Obama is visiting Grand Junction as part of a four-stop campaign swing through Colorado, which is one of the battleground states where both sides expect the presidential race to be decided.

Supporters — and few opponents — meanwhile lined up early Monday morning for tickets to the event.

People interested in attending the campaign event started lining up before 6:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. opening of the Organizing for America campaign office in a strip mall at 2454 U.S, Highway 6&50.

For Modesto Galvan, the presidential visit offers an opportunity to participate in the political process.

Galvan, who wore a red hat signifying his service in the U.S. Marine Corps, said the nation is improving under Obama.

The latest jobs report marks a turnaround in the nation’s fortunes, especially after the previous Republican administration, Galvan said.

“We’re on the right path,” he said.

He hopes that Obama will address a “path to citizenship” for people who have resided illegally but peacefully in the United States for many years.

“I would like to hear him say he knows for sure he is going to be the president,” Robert Bowsher said of his wishes for Obama’s speech.

Bowsher, a former Illinois resident who dismissed the GOP as the “Government Opposition Party,” instead of “Grand Old Party,” said he wants a president “who cares for people, not for business” — a reference to presumptive Republican nominee and businessman Mitt Romney.

Melody Safken arrived early for her chance to collect tickets to the event, saying she was too late and missed her chance during a previous visit by Obama.

Safken and her daughter, Brooke, said they wanted to hear Obama’s take on any issues affecting women.

Liz Hochevar said she hoped to get tickets for herself and her grandchildren.

“I want them to experience our president,” Hochevar said.

People who sought tickets were asked to supply their home addresses, email addresses and say whether they would volunteer in the campaign.

They also were asked whether they were Obama supporters.

One who wasn’t, Michael Lentz, an active Republican, joked with Democrats in line as he left, ticket in hand, that he was — for the day — a “RINO,” or “Republican In Name Only.”

Lentz couldn’t resist a parting, partisan shot as he left, noting that the line might have been longer “if not for Buffalo Wild Wings.”

A line also was forming that morning at the Mesa Mall restaurant, which opens this week and was offering free wings as a promotion.

The president’s rally falls between check-in days for fall classes at Grand Junction High School, District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said.

The Obama rally marks the second time this summer that aspirants to the nation’s highest office have visited District 51 schools.

Romney last month rallied supporters at Central High School, attracting about 1,200 people.

Obama spoke at Central as president in 2009 and as a candidate in 2008 at Cross Orchards Living History Farm.Doors will open Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and Obama is to be in Grand Junction for about two-and-a-half hours before departing for rallies Thursday in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.


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