Democratic Gov. Jared Polis extended a hand to his political rivals Friday, telling a conservative political summit that "our state of Colorado is big enough for all of us to live our lives according to our values" even as his critics responded with shouts for a "recall."
His remarks at the 10th annual Western Conservative Summit are the first for an elected Democrat, and the first-year governor received a mixed response as he spoke from the same stage where Donald Trump Jr. spoke later in the day.
Polis, the nation's first openly gay man elected governor, touted his work to expand state-funded full-day kindergarten and reform the tax system, but in his 10-minute speech he emphasized a broader message about bipartisanship and respectful debate.
"While we should never gloss over the things that divide us, there is a lot more that unites us," Polis said. He added a moment later: "When we close ourselves off from discussion or debate, and we reject the possibility of hearing and understanding other perspectives, it threatens the fabric of our democracy."
The appearance came days after conservatives started a long-shot effort to recall him from office after only six months. And his willingness to attend loaned bipartisan credibility to an event that has refused to allow a gay-rights Republican organization to participate and amplified speakers who discriminated against Muslims. A year ago, it featured Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King, who was ostracized and denounced by his own party for being a white supremacist.
Staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.
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