Bernie Sanders And Other Proxies Are Visiting Colorado For Biden And Trump As Campaigns Keep Their Focus Elsewhere

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
John Pence, advisor to President Donald Trump’s election team and the vice president’s nephew, speaks at a rally in front of state Senate candidate Doug Townsend’s home in Hale. Oct. 7, 2020.

With less than a week to go before Election Day, the candidates and their surrogates are fanning out across the country to get out the vote. 

Republicans tout the accomplishments of President Donald Trump and argue he’s earned another four years. On the other side, Democrats hammer the president’s record and talk up former Vice President Joe Biden as the responsible choice.

But a lot of that is pretty invisible if you live in Colorado — at least compared to past presidential election years.

One of the biggest names to “visit” the state in this final week before the election was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who stumped virtually for Biden via local media interviews Wednesday. He won the Democratic primary here in 2016 and 2020 and was back with the goal of rallying his supporters to return their ballots for Biden.

“We hope the people in Colorado come out in very large numbers to say that we’ve had enough of Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to move the country in a new direction. Have a government that stands up for working families, not just the very wealthy.”

On the campaign trail, Trump has argued that a Biden presidency will mean increased taxes. It’s a notion Sanders pushed back against.

“Biden is not going to raise taxes on the middle class, the working families. But he is appropriately going to raise taxes on the very wealthiest in this country,” Sanders said. “Should the rich start paying their fair share of taxes? I believe they should. I think most Coloradans agree with that.”

Sanders also talked about policies a Biden administration might pursue, such as expanded broadband for rural America. And he disputed the claim that a Biden administration would bring with it a far-left agenda. He said ideas like raising the minimum wage to $15, equal pay for equal work for women, and making public colleges free for working-class families, for example, are not “radical.”

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Sanders was the latest in a line of Biden surrogates to plug for the Democratic candidate in Colorado. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Doug Emhoff, husband of vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, have all made in-person visits to Colorado in recent weeks, as Biden and Harris themselves have focused on battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton bested Trump in Colorado by 136,386 votes, a margin of nearly 5 percentage points. That year, both candidates made multiple in-person visits to the state. In the final days of the race, both Trump and Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, came to rally their supporters.

In contrast, the last time Trump held a public event in Colorado was a February rally in Colorado Springs, before the pandemic. Here in the final stretch, he has been stumping in the likes of Arizona, Michigan and Florida — all of which could help determine the outcome of the presidential race.

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Colorado also hasn’t seen much in the way of Trump campaign surrogates. The last one to come through was John Pence, the Vice President’s nephew, in early October. He traveled on the "Trump Bus" through Erie, Denver, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Montrose and Durango. The president’s daughter, Ivanka, made a two-day swing through the state in late July.

According to the Colorado GOP, no surrogates are expected in Colorado this week.

“It’s not surprising,” said Seth Masket, professor of political science and director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver. “Republicans have seemed to adopt a very defensive strategy, focusing on the handful of states that can keep them in control of the White House and the Senate, and Colorado doesn’t seem to be a part of that calculation given what recent polls are showing.”

And he noted, even virtually, campaign time is valuable.