Entries in Colorado (54)


Northeast Corner of Colorado Seeks Statehood

iStockphoto(WELD COUNTY, Colo.) -- The northeastern corner of Colorado could be the 51st state if its residents have their way.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told ABC News that his constituents feel “ignored and disenfranchised” by the state government and Colorado State Senate Bill 252 is the “last straw” in “threatening their way of life.”  Conway and other county leaders plan of response proposes that willing Colorado plains counties form a new state and call it “North Colorado.”

The bill that has the commissioner and others up in arms would create renewable energy sources in the state. According to Conway, this bill would raise power rates for rural Colorado while exempting municipal entities from any similar rate changes.

“If you are going to impose mandates, impose them on everybody,” Conway told ABC News. “I think [this is] just one more example of the disconnect happening in the state of Colorado [between urban and rural areas]…it isn’t a Democrat or a Republican thing.”

As cited by Conway, the other factors contributing to the disconnect between the Democrat-controlled legislature and the overwhelmingly Republican rural counties include the passing of gun control legislation, “inequity” in school funding, poor transportation infrastructure and greater state focus on developing oil and gas industries at the cost of local agriculture.

While Conway admits that creating a new state will be a long process, he believes the timing and scenario of the proposal will help push it into fruition.

“We believe the way to move forward is to let people vote on this,” he said.

In the coming weeks, constituents and county leaders alike are encouraged to participate in talks discussing North Colorado statehood and garner public interest. The deadline for joining the secession movement is August 1, 2013.

“If there is enough interest we’ll go ahead and put it on the November ballot,” Conway told ABC News. “We want it to be ready to go for the legislative session in January and have that debate as soon as possible.”

If the measure was adopted, it would still need approval from theGeneral Assembly, the governor and the Colorado Legislature would need to petition Congress for the creation of a new state.

According to a report by the Coloradoan, Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, said it is still early to say whether this plan would survive in the legislature, but that doesn’t deter Conway.

“This should be a very long road, we have hurdles and I think that’s great,” he said. “At the end of the day the nice thing is that the people will decide this.”

Groups in other states have attempted similar feats including Arizona, Maine, Utah, Tennessee, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Marijuana Users Not High Priority for President Obama

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a "top priority" of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs.

"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington state during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal," he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it's legal.

Obama's comments on marijuana are his first following Colorado and Washington voters' approval of Nov. 7 ballot measures that legalize the recreational use and sale of pot in defiance of federal law.

Marijuana, or cannabis, remains classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic whose cultivation, distribution, possession and use are criminal acts.  It's in the same category as heroin, LSD and "Ecstasy," all deemed to have high potential for abuse.

Obama told Walters he does not -- "at this point" -- support widespread legalization of marijuana.  But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug.

"This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law," Obama said. "I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws.  And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about, how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?"

The president said he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to examine the legal questions surrounding conflicting state and federal laws on drugs.

"There are a number of issues that have to be considered, among them, the impact that drug usage has on young people, [and] we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States," Holder said Wednesday of the review underway.

As a politician, Obama has always opposed legalizing marijuana and downplayed his personal history with the substance.

Obama wrote in his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father, that he would smoke pot regularly with his high school buddies who formed a "club of disaffection."  The group was known as the "Choom Gang," says Obama biographer David Maraniss.

"There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid," Obama told Walters.  "My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.

"I want to discourage drug use," he added.

While the administration has not prioritized prosecutions of marijuana users and small-scale distributors in states where it's legal, it has not ceased prosecutions altogether.  The Justice Department has continued raids on pot providers -- including in states where they are legal -- in an approach that experts say is more aggressive than Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush.

"I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana -- and the reason is, because it's against federal law," Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview earlier this year.

It "is a murky area," Obama told the magazine, "where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users.  In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, 'This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.'  That's not something we're going to do."

Obama and the Office of National Drug Control Policy say the negative impacts of widespread marijuana legalization loom large.

Legalization would lower the price of "weed," thereby fueling its use and triggering more widespread negative health effects and subsequent costs of care, the administration says in its official policy position.  Officials also say legalization would do little to curb drug violence or eliminate cartels.

"When you're talking about drug kingpins, folks involved in violence, people who are peddling hard drugs to our kids and our neighborhoods that are devastated, there is no doubt we need to go after those folks hard," said Obama.

"It makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally," he said.  "There's more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side."

More of Walters' exclusive first joint, post-election interview with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama airs Friday on 20/20 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC stations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Wacky Pot Law That Failed in Oregon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize pot -- but why not Oregon?

All three voted on marijuana-legalization ballot initiatives, and Washington and Colorado passed them by 10-percentage-point margins. But Oregon, which is bluer than Colorado, was the only state to vote against legalized pot on Tuesday, turning down Measure 80 54 percent to 46 percent. Some Election-Night observers are scratching their heads.

Part of the difference was that Oregon’s initiative failed to gather support from big-time donors. Or perhaps it’s also that Oregon’s law was kind of wacky: It would have turned the state, effectively, into a pot dealer.

The new laws in Washington and Colorado direct state boards to license and regulate commercial pot growers, processors, and sellers, with the states reaping tax revenues from the new commerce. (If those laws are implemented, that is; there are still doubts over whether the federal government will seek to block them). The laws loosely followed models suggested elsewhere, and both were supported financially by the Drug Policy Alliance, a national drug-policy-reform group.

In Oregon, had Measure 80 passed, the state would have licensed sellers and processors — but instead of regulating its sale, the state would have bought the weed, packaged it, stamped it with a state seal and a potency grade, and sold it to customers at a profit.

This all would have been done by something like ABC stores in liquor-controlled states: An Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC) would have run all ends of the process, finally selling it at OCC stores. Profits would have gone to purchases, testing, grading, shipping, promotion of Oregon hemp and hemp-made biodiesel, and back to the state’s general fund. Like an actual drug dealer, the state could have stopped selling it to any legal, 21-and-over buyers who became pot-addled derelicts (failing to live up to “statutory or common-law dut[ies]“).

But the oddest thing about Oregon’s failed law was its preamble, which jumped quickly to a history lesson about George Washington’s cannabis growth and the preference of “Governeur Morris of Pennsylvania, who spoke at the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787 more than any other delegate” for marijuana over tobacco. It also called marijuana’s legal ban “liberticidal.”

Paul Stanford, the initiative's main backer, for his part, has vowed to push the law again in 2014, unless the state legislature passes it first.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ryan Says He Feels ‘Very Good’ Hours Before Voters Go to the Polls

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JOHNSTON, Colo.) – Just hours before voting starts, Paul Ryan stopped at a diner, but didn’t give much away about how he was doing before what could be the biggest day of his life.

“I feel very good,” he told reporters as he stopped in at Johnson’s Corner, a truck stop diner in Johnston, Colorado, famous for their large cinnamon rolls.

Ryan didn’t answer when reporters asked him if he had spoken to his running mate Monday, although he has said in the past they talk daily.

He also met a priest at the restaurant and he asked Father Greg Ames of a church in Northgenn, Colo. to bless his rosary, taking it out of his pocket.

Sunday on a conference call with evangelical voters he said he always keeps a rosary in his pocket, and he also said he and his family “pray throughout the day.”

After visiting Johnson’s Corner he held a rally outside and he made sure to point out that the GOP ticket is “running a campaign” on the “principles that built this country,” including “religious liberty.”

On the call with evangelical leader Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition Sunday he also spoke about the issue, criticizing the president for the administration’s mandate that hospitals and other employers affiliated with religious groups provide insurance coverage for contraception.

“We should not have to sue the federal government to keep our constitutional freedoms,” Ryan said, referring to the Catholic Church’s lawsuit over the mandate.

“Imagine what he would do if he actually got reelected. It just puts a chill down my spine,” Ryan added.

On Monday, the GOP vice presidential nominee also reprised a line Mitt Romney has been using on the stump calling Obama’s campaign and administration “the incredible shrinking presidency and the incredible shrinking campaign,” hitting his opponents on the tone of the campaign.

“It’s partly funny but it’s actually quite sad,” Ryan said.

Both campaigns have spent heavily in the battleground state, dumping $69,551,600 on 114,876 ad,s making it the state with the fourth-highest-spending, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, an ad tracking group. They have also campaigned in the state heavily; Ryan was just there Sunday as well as Thursday.

Polls in the Rocky Mountain State are very tight between Obama and Romney. A CNN/ORC poll from last week showed the president with a two-point advantage, within the margin of error. Obama was at 50 percent support, while Romney was at 48 percent. The ABC News/Washington Post daily national tracking poll out Monday gave the president the same slim edge with 50 percent to 47 percent.

Ryan’s next stop on his five state, five stop, four timezone day is where the presidential contest begins: Des Moines, Iowa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 


Paul Ryan Says Obama Would Compromise ‘Judeo-Christian’ Values

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images(CASTLE ROCK, Colo.) -- Paul Ryan squeezed in time on a four-stop, five-state day for a conference call with evangelical voters Sunday evening, issuing a warning about a second Obama term, saying the president is putting the country on a “dangerous path” that compromises “Judeo-Christian, western civilization values.”

Evangelical leader Ralph Reed’s influential group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, hosted the call and Reed said “tens of thousands” of Evangelical Christians were listening in.

The GOP vice presidential nominee said in the “critical battleground states” it will make a “big difference” if people "are worried about…whether or not we’re going to go down the path the president has put us on.”

“It’s a dangerous path,” Ryan said in his opening remarks on the call.  “It’s a path that grows government, restricts freedom and liberty, and compromises those values, those Judeo-Christian, western civilization values that made us such a great an exceptional nation in the first place.”

Ryan talks about his Catholic faith frequently on the trail but on Sunday evening, he went into more detail when a caller from Florida asked him how his faith has given him and his family courage throughout the campaign.  Ryan said it “sustains us on a daily basis” and “we pray throughout the day,” noting he keeps a rosary in his pocket.

“It keeps us, keeps us humble, it keeps us strong, it keeps us in a great place, it gives us peace of mind,” Ryan said.  “First prayer I say every morning is the serenity prayer.”

He said the hometown priest at his Catholic church in Janesville, Wis., emailed him Sunday night with a message: “Just have no fear.”

“And that’s how the Lord sustains me,” Ryan said.  “No fear…It’s the prayer from my pastor, my family, with my family, and also it’s the prayers that are offered to me from perfect strangers that I know are out there praying, for Mitt [Romney] and myself, and our families, and our families are doing great.”

Ryan, who’s been with his three young children and wife, Janna, on the road for several days, said they are doing “very, very well” and they have been doing homework on the road this week.

“It’s because so many people around this country are praying for us and offering their prayers and coming up and giving us so many mementos that show they really care about this country and that they’re praying for us,” Ryan said.

As he does on the stump, he criticized President Obama for the administration’s mandate that hospitals and other employers affiliated with religious groups provide insurance coverage for contraception.

“We should not have to sue the federal government to keep our constitutional freedoms,” Ryan said, referring to the Catholic Church’s lawsuit over the mandate.

“Imagine what he would do if he actually got reelected.  It just puts a chill down my spine,” he added.

Ryan will travel to Nevada next for a five-state, five-stop day on Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scout Leader From Mitt Romney’s Oft-Told Anecdote Makes Surprise Cameo

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(ENGLEWOOD, Colo.) -- One of Mitt Romney’s most told anecdotes came to life tonight in front of one of the candidate’s largest crowds, as the GOP presidential nominee paraded out a Boy Scoutmaster and an American flag he has been mentioning in stump speeches throughout his campaign, a story meant to highlight American greatness.

“A hero is not someone who is larger than life, just larger than himself,” Romney began, launching into the story of meeting with Boy Scout leaders at a Scoutmaster ceremony several years ago. It was there, Romney said, that Scoutmaster William Tolbert told the story of his troop from Monument, Colorado, wanting a “special” American flag.

The troop’s flag flew above the Capitol in Washington D.C., as Romney tells the story, and then NASA agreed to the unthinkable: the organization agreed to fly the flag with the space shuttle Challenger on its mission in 1986.

“Can you imagine the pride of our boys as they were sitting in their rooms at school watching the TV sets as they saw the Space Challenger Shuttle launch into the air and then they saw it explode on the TV screen in front of their eyes,” Romney told the crowd of 17,000 tonight.

Romney recalled how Tolbert said he’d called NASA for weeks and months asking if any of the flag had survived the crash, which had killed all seven crew members on board. Eventually, Tolbert got the news he was waiting for, and the Boy Scout troop a surprise of a lifetime.

“They presented the boys with this plastic container and they open it up and inside was the American flag – their flag – in perfect condition,” said Romney.

“And I haven’t seen that flag in I don’t know, 15 or 20 years, or that Scoutmaster, but Monument, Colorado, is not that far from here,” Romney said, calling out to the Scoutmaster to enter the stage, the crowd erupting in cheers.

“Now, did I get that story right?” Romney asked Tolbert, who came holding the folded flag, which was in a case, in his hands proudly.

“You did, Sir,” Tolbert responded, giving Romney a salute.

A campaign aide later said that the campaign had reached out to Tolbert to invite him to tonight’s rally, and Tolbert agreed, gifting Romney with a flag from NASA as a keepsake.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ryan ‘Can Smell Success,’ Or Is It Cow Manure?

Scott Olson/Getty Images(Montrose, Colo.) — Just four days before the election, Paul Ryan told a crowd assembled on an airport tarmac that he could “smell success.”  And the crowd roared.

The smell, in fact, was that of cow manure, or something that smelled an awful lot like it. The tarmac is nestled in the mountains of Colorado, and as it became more and more overpowering, and as Ryan was more and more intently describing his running mate’s business credentials, the VP contender paused, took a deep whiff and said, “I can smell success right now."

“That’s the smell of success isn’t it? That’s the smell of progress.  I love that smell, it makes me feel at home,” Ryan said.

It’s the final push to Tuesday, and Ryan was hitting the president on Friday morning’s October jobs report, noting that the unemployment rate ticked up slightly. But he didn’t mention that additional jobs were created, more than economists predicted.

“What we saw today is that the unemployment rate is higher than the day that President Obama came into office,” Ryan said at the brief rally in an airplane hangar here. “What we are seeing today is that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work today. What we see today is that 15 percent of our fellow countrymen and women are living in poverty. This is the highest poverty rate in a generation.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics survey reported Friday morning that the economy created 171,000 jobs last month, with upward revisions from August and September adding an additional 84,000 jobs. This is the final jobs report before Election Day. Economists had only predicted about 125,000 new jobs. It wasn’t all good news, as the unemployment rate slightly ticked up from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent.

“The economy is growing at less than half the rate that the president said it would be growing at if only he could borrow a bunch of money and spend it on his cronies and stimulus package,” Ryan said, in a familiar hit against Obama. “We are nine million jobs shorter than what he said he would accomplish. Look, in the president’s campaign for another term, he has offered nothing different, and if he is reelected, nothing different is exactly what we would get.”

The crowd of about 1,000 people interrupted the GOP vice presidential nominee with chants of “four more days,” while Ryan told them,  ”We only need to wait four more days. Four more days and we can do this.”

Ryan also tried to sound a bipartisan tone in his final argument to woo independent voters, or those still making up their minds,  pledging that both he and his running mate would work across the aisle if they make it to the White House.

“We can come together, Republicans and Democrats can come together to solve this country’s problems,” Ryan said. “And we have a proven record for actually doing that. Mitt Romney did that that as governor, and I have  been doing that in the House. We know that Americans love America and it doesn’t matter what party you come from. We can fix this country’s problems.”

Democrats in Washington, D.C., as well as those Romney worked with while he was governor in Massachusetts, have consistently criticized both members of the GOP ticket for doing the opposite.

A new CNN/ORC Colorado poll released Thursday shows the candidates within the margin of error in Colorado with Obama at 50 percent support and Romney with 48 percent. The latest ABC News/Washington Post national tracking poll, released at 5 p.m. Friday, still has the two candidates virtually tied, with the president at 48 percent support and Romney at 49 percent.

As for early voting in the state, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office reports that over 1.3 million ballots have already been cast here. Of those, 457,337 are Democrats, 493, 457 are Republicans and 341,920 are from voters registered as “unaffiliated.” The number of ballots cast so far is already more than half, 53.9 percent, of the total votes cast in 2008.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Claims Mantle of ‘Change’ in 2012 Race

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(BOULDER, Colo.) -- Voters in Colorado Thursday night got a glimpse of the Barack Obama of 2008, with his soaring, impassioned and relentless rhetoric that electrified a crowd in a way only rarely seen during the 2012 campaign.

Sharpening his closing argument for a second term, Obama delivered a forceful defense of his mantra of “change” in an evening rally at the University of Colorado, insisting that the economic and social transformation for which Americans are yearning will only come if voters stick by his side.

“You may not agree with every decision that I’ve made, you may be frustrated at the rate of change,” he told the crowd of 10,000 inside a campus basketball arena.  But, “I know what real change looks like, because I fought for it,” he added.  “I’ve got the scars to prove it.  I’ve got the gray hair to show for it.”

With four days to go before Election Day, Obama is accusing his opponent, Republican nominee Mitt Romney, of acting like a “salesman,” trying to masquerade as an agent of change, while in reality representing little difference in substance or policy from his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush. 

Deploying his campaign slogan, Obama claims he would move the country “forward,” while Romney’s proposals would take it “backward.”

The president is taking his late-election case on a battleground state tour that will land him in Chicago on Tuesday.  Earlier Thursday, he stumped in Green Bay, Wis., and Las Vegas.  On Friday, he will spend the entire day at events in Ohio.

“I’m not going to allow this nation to be plunged into another battle over health care,” Obama insisted Thursday night.  “I’m not going to allow politicians in Washington to make health care choices for women that they can make for themselves…”

“We need an agenda that recognizes that we don’t just look out for ourselves, we look out for one another,” he said.

Invoking the ideals that his aides say shaped his first run for political office in Illinois, Obama said he is running to be a “champion” for the people who “need a champion in Washington.”

“I ran because the voices of the American people, your voices, had been shut out of American politics for way too long,” Obama said.

He acknowledged there have been some “big fights” over the past four years to achieve his goal, but said “I’m not ready to give up on that fight.”

“We’ve come too far to grow faint-hearted!  Now’s the time to keep pushing forward!” Obama exhorted the crowd, which was on its feet with cheers and applause.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Voting Early, But Won't Say for Who

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Seeking to lead by example, President Obama on Wednesday told a crowd of 16,000 in Colorado about his plans to vote early on Thursday, although he would not say who he is supporting.

“It’s a secret ballot,” he joked.  “But Michelle says she voted for me.  That's what she said.”

The president will make a short stop in his hometown of Chicago in between campaign rallies in Richmond, Va., and Cleveland on Thursday to cast his ballot.

“We can vote early in Illinois, just like you can vote early in Colorado,” he told the crowd at City Park on the second stop of his 48-hour marathon campaign swing.

The president has been encouraging his supporters to cast their ballots early for weeks and his advisors claim they have an edge over rival Mitt Romney in early voting.

Earlier Wednesday, Obama adviser David Plouffe told reporters traveling with the president that they are beginning to see the election unfold based on early voting.

“We like what we’re seeing,” he said.  “It’s very encouraging.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Asks Colorado to Put GOP Ticket Over the Top

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MORRISON, Colo.) -- In front of one of the biggest crowds of his campaign, Mitt Romney, joined by Paul Ryan, appeared at the outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater on Tuesday and told a crowd of 12,000 that Colorado voters will put the GOP ticket over the top on Nov. 6.

“We’re on the home stretch now and I think the people of Colorado are going to get us all the way there.  What do you think?,” Romney said to roars from the crowd.  “What you’re seeing across this country as we’ve had these debates and as Paul and I have gone across the nation, you’re seeing this movement growing.”

Noting signs that read “Democrats for Romney,” Romney urged the audience to talk to neighbors who may not be Republicans.

“I came in and some of the folks here were holding signs, 'Democrats for Romney,' all right?  I love that.  I love that,” he said to cheers.

“Paul and I have a few things in common.  One is, we both learned how to reach across the aisle in our elected office, to find ways to work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to get the job done.  And we need you to reach across the neighborhood to Democrats and Independents as well, make sure they understand that this is a year to vote for real change if you want to have real recovery,” he added.

Romney again reiterated, “I need you to get those folks to vote for us!”

Ryan also urged the crowd to stump for them asking to cheers, “Hey Colorado, are you ready to help us win this thing?”

Polls are deadlocked in the state, with both tickets within the margin of error.  Ryan has spent three days campaigning in Colorado and  Romney noted early voting there -- which started Monday -- asking people to cast their ballots early in order to help out on Nov. 6.

“There’s early voting now,” Romney said.  “You can take your ballots and send them in if you’ve got them.  If you’ve got your absentee ballots be sure to send them in.  If you haven’t got one get into the center and get sure that you get voted early.  We want to get that done.  We want to bank all those votes so on Election Day you can go out and get people to the polls that otherwise wouldn’t get there.  Would you do that for me?”

He thanked the audience, saying they are ”helping change the course of a nation and setting the course on a path that will lead to greatness and prosperity again and again, that is the grassroots of America.  That’s the people of America.  That’s who we are tonight.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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