Colorado caucuses could be pivotal in Republican contest

It looks like Colorado’s Republican caucuses on Feb. 7 are going to be more important to the presidential primary race than had originally been thought because the front runners, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, seem unlikely to seize any overwhelming advantage before the caucuses.

Of course, the way this race has been going, a front runner today can be completely out of the battle in two weeks. We’re not even sure if this is all the candidates who are going to jump into the race this crazy season, with some Republicans still hoping that Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels might tumble in to bring yet another lukewarm contender into the fray.

What will make Colorado, and especially western Colorado, interesting is the high percentage of self-identified tea party activists, which at one time was the highest in the nation as a percentage of the electorate. It will be interesting to see how they react to the current offerings from Republicans.

One thing that pops up in discussions locally is the feeling that a strong and grounded conservative is needed to apply some triage to the poor, battered Constitution after the drubbing it has received the last three years. The feeling is the nominee has to be pretty steadfast to put the nation back on a path that doesn’t force us to treat China like a rich uncle or promote a tax policy that encourages the government to rob Peter to pay for robbing Paul.

Our area is especially interested in the national debate on energy production and, more specifically and immediately, the administration’s move to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project from Canada. This is a perfectly understandable decision, since it mollifys self-identified environmentalists and keeps business flowing to Warren Buffett’s railroad. I didn’t say it was right, I just said it was understandable.

If the Colorado caucuses prove to be as important as they could, we might very well see candidates in the state and possibly even our own area. If some of the Republican contenders show up in Colorado, it will give us an up-close view, not only of them but their opposition.

I don’t mean President Barack Obama. I’m sure he’ll be off someplace as usual, riding a bicycle or something; I mean the other opposition: the national media.

Since Colorado in general, and the Western Slope in particular, have such strong ties to the energy industry, it will be interesting to see how those concerns will be covered by the various alphabet networks and cable channels.

I believe they travel from place to place aboard crafts powered by moonbeams and honeysuckles, so it’s tough for them to understand the need for conventional energy or letting the public actually use public lands.

It’s pretty enlightening just to examine the coverage we see of the candidates when they are far away. It would be more so to actually hear what they had to say and then what the media said they had to say.

Don’t worry, the candidates will have their facts checked by outlets like The Washington Post, which is so ironic I find myself thinking of the Gospel according to Matthew: “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

If you’re wondering how a discussion on energy with Republican presidential candidates can be interpreted, just remember the fantastic job done with Mitt Romney’s assertion that making over $340,000 in speaking fees wasn’t all that much.

Granted it’s a big number and shows Romney has made a lot of money, but compared to President Clinton’s speaking fees, it’s chump change.

By 2010, Clinton had made $76 million in speaking engagements since leaving office, with the majority of appearances being out of the country. According to CNN, he made $500,000 for a speech in Moscow and another $500,000 for a speech in the United Arab Emirates.

I watched very closely for any comment about the former president’s fees in connection with Romney’s remark, but didn’t hear any.

Normally, I’d say sit back and enjoy the rodeo, but in this case I’m worried we’re the stock, not the audience.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, the War on Wrong.


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