Obama visit details few; state Dems are silent

By GARY HARMON
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President Obama by e-mail Monday asked supporters to write or call U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., and thank him for working on health insurance reform, days before the president visits Salazar’s district.

It’s unclear, though, whether the president will take up Salazar’s invitation to tour Rocky Mountain Health Plans, the health care system touted by Salazar, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and national publications.

It’s unclear even whether Salazar or Obama’s close political ally, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, would accompany the president on his visit to Salazar’s district.

Salazar’s office didn’t respond to a request for information and Ritter’s spokesman said nothing had been decided.

The White House has said the president will be in Grand Junction on Saturday as part of a tour of the West’s national parks and monuments. No mention was made of whether the president would visit Colorado National Monument while in western Colorado.

Officials with Rocky Mountain Health Plans said they hadn’t heard from the White House.

Obama would be welcome to tour the system in Grand Junction, said Rocky Mountain Health Plans President Steve ErkenBrack.

“We welcome policy-makers to come and see what we’ve been doing for 35 years,” ErkenBrack said.

News reports in Montana said that Obama might conduct town hall meetings while visiting there, and it also was suggested there would be a Grand Junction meeting.

Through e-mails from BarackObama.com, however, the president urged supporters to contact Salazar’s Grand Junction office and “Let the person who answers know that you’re a constituent. Then tell them: ‘Thanks for working to enact real health insurance reform this year. Voters like me support your efforts.’ ”

Speakers at a rally last month also urged participants to contact Salazar’s office.

The e-mail also characterizes opponents of the president’s health care reform effort as “a tiny minority being stirred up by special interests” and says “a huge majority strongly supports enacting real health insurance reform in 2009.”

Organizers of the Grand Junction tea party movement said they had no plans to rally or otherwise directly confront the president with disagreements over heath care reforms.

Colorado National Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo, who has coordinated presidential visits at other National Park Service sites, urged residents not to pay attention to rumors and that the only reliable information would be issued by the White House.

She would be “very honored if the president or any member of his family were to visit” the monument, Anzelmo said.


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