COLORADO SPRINGS — President Donald Trump and his reelection campaign see Colorado as a top 2020 target, dismissing polls suggesting he has a big hill to climb if he wants to reverse his 2016 fortunes in the state.
Trump lost Colorado to Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago by 5 percentage points.
“We think Colorado will go red,” Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said Thursday as the president held a rally in Colorado Springs. “We don’t believe the president is under water.”
To win in Colorado, however, the Trump campaign will need all the support it can get.
The Colorado Sun spoke with Republican voters at Thursday’s rally, which drew thousands to the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, to learn about why they support the president. Here’s what they said:
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Matt Morgan, a 30-year-old mechanical inspector in Colorado Springs
Morgan didn’t support Trump in 2016. He didn’t even vote that year.
“I didn’t know about Trump and how I felt about him then,” he said. “He’s definitely grown on me.”
Among the things he likes about the president? His aggressive stance toward China on trade.
Morgan showed up at the Broadmoor World Arena at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, more than 12 hours ahead of Trump’s speech, because he was so eager to see the president. He and his friend Paul Overstreet ran into Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, in the stadium as they were buying some food.
They posed for a photo with Parscale, who paid for their meal.
Kevin Lewis, 57-year-old entrepreneur from Colorado Springs
Lewis, who was at his first Trump rally, said he supported the president when he first ran in 2016. He thinks Trump is “doing a fantastic job.”
“We want to show him good energy,” Lewis said.
What’s his favorite thing about Trump? It’s hard to say, Lewis said.
“He’s done everything he said he was going to do. He takes on the deep state and keeps on fighting. It’s very exciting. You can name off about 10 of them. It’s not a single issue. How he does everything,” he said.
Pam Paulson, a retired nurse from Westminster
Paulson wasn’t going to let a broken foot stop her from attending her first Trump rally. She and her husband rented a wheelchair so that they could see the president on Thursday.
“I’ve always wanted to go,” she said of Trump’s rallies.
Paulson supported Trump in 2016 bid and plans to back him this year as well. She said initially liked him because of his business background, but her support has broadened.
“I think he’s done so much for the country,” she said. “One of the things I’m surprised about is he’s done more for Christians than anyone has done in a long, long time. It’s really been impressive to me.”
George Park, a 74-year-old car salesman, and Geralyn Park, a 62-year-old entrepreneur. Both are from California.
The Parks are from California and flew in for the rally. They are independents, or not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican party.
Their daughter, a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, serves in the military.
“His biggest accomplishment is continuing to produce what a good president does, despite all of the — (for the) lack of a better word — horse manure that’s been shoveled his way,” George Park said.
Geralyn Park says she appreciates Trump’s commitment to the military.
“Nobody wants war. Nobody wants killing,” she said. “But you have to be strong. And I think he understands that, that’s why I like him.”
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Mitch Cogburn, a 55-year-old farmer and entrepreneur
Cogburn said he likes Trump because the president does what he says he’s going to do.
“Unlike the last eight years,” Cogburn said. “That’s what we’re witnessing right now.”
His biggest takeaway from the rally Thursday night was the enthusiasm. Cogburn said he doesn’t think the GOP has seen so much excitement in years, “if ever.”
Cogburn was at the rally with his girlfriend, Darcy Alexander, 48, a schoolteacher and registered Democrat. She said Trump was “highly entertaining” and “keeps your attention.”
She also thinks he’s been great for the economy.
Isabel Hicks and Sam Seymour are journalism students at Colorado College.