Colorado Republicans cheered President Trump Tuesday night as he officially kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign with a televised rally in Orlando, Florida.
There were at least nine county Republican watch parties across the state. In deep blue Denver, dozens of the president’s supporters, decked out in American flag hoodies and MAGA hats, packed a sports bar in the tony Washington Park neighborhood.
Kristina Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, was thrilled with the turnout, despite the Mile High City’s left lean.
“When we talk to people it’s like, ‘Gosh , I hate that guy. I hate him,’” she said. “And every time it gets back to the things that he says. Not the things that he does.”
Cook knows that President Trump has an uphill battle in the state but thinks he could succeed by focusing more on his policy accomplishments.
“In Colorado... people actually agree with our principles in a lot of cases. People don’t agree with our candidates in a lot of cases,” she said.
Trump is highly unpopular in Colorado. He lost to Hillary Clinton by 5 points in 2016 and a recent Morning Consult poll puts the president’s popularity 14 points underwater in this state. But, Steven Barlock, who worked on Trump’s 2016 Colorado campaign and unsuccessfully challenged Walker Stapleton for the Republican governor’s nomination last year, suggested Colorado’s left turn in the last midterm election could end up helping Trump.
“The Democrats are doing more work for us than we need to do. They are destroying themselves,” he said. Barlock’s opinion didn’t stop with the state’s Democrats.
“I would like to see him [Trump] be tough on Nancy Pelosi. He’s been very inviting to work with Nancy and Nancy has been such a stubborn b---h,” he said. “I would like to see Donald Trump really stand up to Nancy and slap her around a little harder. It’s really sad.”
Barlock clarified he didn’t want the president to literally assault the Speaker of the House, but rather Trump should be “rougher” with Pelosi.
When it comes to the eventual presidential campaign in Colorado, Barlock thinks President Trump should focus on progressive overreach and hammer on one main issue: “The success of our economy right now. For minorities, for women, for any group, any individual. Your life is getting better.”
As the kick-off rally watch party in the bar gazed at the TV, President Trump used his speech to range far beyond the economy, hitting on many of his classic themes. Fake news. “Crooked” Hillary Clinton’s emails. The perils of illegal immigration.
The Denver crowd loved it and broke out into chants of “USA!” and “Lock her up.”
Twenty-one-year-old Chris Bowman came away less enthusiastic. He was a Sen. Marco Rubio supporter in the 2016 Republican primary and thinks Trump could win over the state’s many unaffiliated voters with a less divisive tone.
“This won’t connect with people in Colorado because it’s not meant to,” Bowman said of Tuesday’s speech. “This is meant to capture states like Florida and places that he’s won that he needs to keep. He won’t win Colorado.”
Bowman doesn’t think Trump grew his base last night, but he does believe the president fired it up.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misspelled Chris Bowman's name.