Colorado Republicans Cheered Trump’s Immigration And Health Care Lines At State Of The Union Watch Party

February 4, 2020
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheered him on during the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at The Tavern in Centennial. (Andrew Kenney/CPR News)Supporters of President Donald Trump cheered him on during the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at The Tavern in Centennial. (Andrew Kenney/CPR News)
Supporters of President Donald Trump cheered him on during the 2020 State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at The Tavern in Centennial. (Andrew Kenney/CPR News)

More than 100 people crammed into the second floor of The Tavern in Centennial to cheer President Donald Trump through his election-year State of the Union Address.

It wasn't just a chance to find allies in a blue-tinged state. It was catharsis on the verge of an expected acquittal in Trump's U.S. Senate trial, and the disarray of Democrats' first caucus in Iowa only added to the jubilation.

"We've got a big election coming up. Look at what the competition's doing. The competition's really proving themselves to be kind of nuts," said Kristina Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party. "We're watching the impeachment debacle, we're watching what's happening in Iowa.

"I think this is our year to really show the American people what being a Republican is all about -- about the hope, about the opportunity."

The reserved room quickly filled to capacity, with frustrated attendees turned away at the stairs. Upstairs, political candidates circulated while attendees traded pins and hats and posed with a cardboard Trump cutout.

"I think there's more at stake this year than there has been in previous years," said Kris Webster, a health care professional from Centennial, before the address. She was most looking forward to hearing from Trump on his health care proposals.

"I have to say that I have felt strongly about presidents we've had in the past, but not nearly as strong as I have about this candidate, and I think it's because of the impact he's having on American," Webster said.

Trump’s approval rating is 94 percent among Republicans nationwide. And it’s climbed to 49 percent overall, its highest level ever in Gallup polling -- the most polarized presidential approval rating in the survey’s history.

Trump drew strong applause as he talked about a rebuilt military, renegotiated trade deals, and he laid out his support for paid family leave and "the American worker."

While the address laid out some health care priorities shared by Democrats, the party's attendees drew a cleared line. Trump's warnings of socialized medicine drew boos that morphed into one of several U-S-A chants.

A brief on-camera shot of Sen. Cory Gardner also drew a few excited whispers.

An extended segment on immigration enforcement, in which Trump singled out crimes committed by immigrants, drew some of the strongest applause of the night. "Hancock sucks!" someone shouted, a reference to Mayor Michael Hancock and the city of Denver's policies.

Later in the speech, a riff on gun rights drew uproarious cheers. The president's plan to go to the moon wasn't quite as popular, though it drew applause. And when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tore up a copy of the speech behind Trump at the end of the address, they fumed.

As they streamed out, attendees said they felt assured of Trump's re-election victory.

"I cried, the whole thing. I thought it was eloquent, beautiful, I thought he killed it," said Jennifer Wallen of Centennial. "I honestly think that Donald Trump is maybe touched by God. He's bringing back America, and he's doing it for all Americans, even though some are resisting."

What they weren't so sure about: Could he ever win Colorado?

Some said it was impossible in a blue-tinged state, but Casper Stockham of Aurora said the state party needed to get organized and reach out to minority voters. The crowd on Tuesday night skewed white and older; Stockham, a candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, is black.

"It's definitely possible. They're trying, but they're not trying hard enough. They're not going into the inner cities, they're not going into Aurora, and that's a mistake," Stockham said. "Donald Trump doesn't leave any votes on the table, and neither should they."

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