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July 9, 2012
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Presidential campaign reaches into High Country

Barack Obama's Colorado re-election team announced the addition of a new field office in Silverthorne this week to join the president's arsenal of 20 campaign centers across the state.

The new office is yet another indication that both Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Mitt Romney will make the Western Slope a key arena in a battleground state this year.

"It shows the importance that Summit County and the region play within the national political framework right now," Summit County Commissioner and former state Sen. Dan Gibbs said. "No matter if you're Republican or Democrat, you're going to see both sides spend some money in Summit County."

Both sides are already spending money and time in rural Colorado.

Romney is attending a town hall at Central High School in Grand Junction - a GOP stronghold - today. It's his third visit to Colorado in as many months, although so far Denver hasn't made the list for public appearances.

Romney spoke to coal miners in Craig in May and was in also in Fort Lupton in May.

Obama has been a bit more consistent about hitting the population centers on the Front Range on his visits to Colorado, but is clearly making the rural regions a priority as well.

The announcement of the new field office in Silverthorne comes just weeks after the president's top policy aides for Colorado visited Summit County to tour a forest restoration project site with local Democrats.

"Lead policy people in the state want to come to Summit to learn," Gibbs, a Democrat, said of the visit. "They are doing their homework, and they have a strong ground game. I expect the same from the Romney campaign. Every vote counts in this election cycle."

Obama's Colorado spokesperson said the local field office - set to open its doors at 285 Summit Place in Silverthorne Wednesday - will be a place for the community to gather with friends and neighbors to organize and rally support for Obama.

"Here in Colorado we've been busy setting up shop in neighborhoods from Grand Junction to Aurora and everywhere in between," Dylan Roberts of the Obama campaign told the Summit Daily in an email. "We're focusing on building the strongest grassroots organization politics has ever seen, because that's what we know it's going to take to compete with the other side's massive spending, plain and simple."

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gibbs speculated having a local campaign center would benefit Democrats all the way down the ticket in the November election.

Summit County Dems Millie Hamner and Emily Tracy are vying for seats in the state House and Senate, while Democrat Karn Stiegelmeier will attempt to hold on to her seat on the Summit Board of County Commissioners this year.

Local Republicans Scott Turner and Debra Irvine are making bids for the Fifth Judicial District Attorney's office and the state House District 61 respectively, and Republican Kevin Mastin is challenging Stiegelmeier for commissioner.

The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jul 9, 2012 06:35PM Published Jul 9, 2012 06:33PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.