The Durango Herald
Peter Marcus

DENVER – Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton on Tuesday visited Colorado, where she sought to inspire Democrats to stump for her.

Facing an impressive primary challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton must convince Colorado Democrats to support her at March 1 grass-roots caucus gatherings.

While the swing state of Colorado represents only a handful of delegate votes, the state is important to securing the Democratic Party’s nod to compete against Republicans next year. Colorado will be even more critical to Democrats in holding the White House.

“I think it’s important for us to understand what’s really at stake in this election,” Clinton addressed about 900 people at the Boulder Theater in Boulder during remarks that lasted about 45 minutes. She later offered similar comments at Manual High School in Denver.

“When you compare the different sides and our Republican candidates, there is a really big choice ahead for America,” Clinton continued. 

While the event was described as an “organizing meeting,” it had the feel of a campaign rally, with high-profile Colorado politicos introducing Clinton and urging support, including former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Right-leaning Colorado groups were quick to criticize the former secretary of state’s visit, suggesting that Clinton has an uphill image battle to win.

“Hillary Clinton is here using populist rhetoric about her ‘organizing meetings’ in a thinly veiled attempt to portray herself as an everywoman,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “If there’s one thing that doesn’t work out here in places like Colorado, it’s attempting to pretend you’re something or someone you’re not.”

For some in attendance at the events, the decision to support Clinton was not an easy one. Olivia Storz, a University of Denver student, said Clinton better represents her interests as a woman.

“I really, really like Bernie. But I think a lot of it is just that (Clinton) has been a political model for me my whole life,” Storz said. “I always looked up to her as a role model, and I think she would be a great president.”

Clinton was not shy about highlighting the possibility of becoming the first woman president, stating: “The Republicans often say, ‘Well, there she goes playing the gender card.’ Well … if equal pay … is playing the gender card, deal me in.”