Newt Gingrich joins Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum on pre-caucus campaign trail

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Newt Gingrich.
When last we spoke with Colorado Republican Party head Ryan Call about the February 7 Colorado caucuses, he noted that Newt Gingrich had not scheduled any state events. But that's changed. At this hour, Gingrich is scheduled at a west-side rally, with another assembly juxtaposing him and Rick Santorum. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has two Colorado stops slated for today on opposite sides of the state. Call gives us the details.

According to Call, "Newt Gingrich is doing a grassroots rally in Golden," at the Marriott Denver West, beginning at 11:30 a.m., "and then he and Rick Santorum are participating in an energy forum sponsored by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association and the Colorado Farm Bureau at the Colorado School of Mines." (They're expected to speak at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.) "Rick is doing another event as well" -- he'll be at the Cable Center at 7:30 p.m. "And Governor Romney is in Grand Junction this afternoon" -- he'll be speaking at the Country Inn of America at 12:15 p.m. -- "and then back for an event at Arapahoe High School" at 6:15 p.m. "And he'll be in Loveland tomorrow morning" at RV American, with a possible Denver bash Tuesday evening. See this Denver Post article for more details.

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Ryan Call.
As such, only Ron Paul, who visited three Colorado locales last week, is elsewhere today. Call notes that he's campaigning in Minnesota, whose citizenry will also weigh in tomorrow.

And while we haven't seen the sort of ad blitz that struck Florida and other states that rely on the primary rather than caucus system, the hopefuls are still spending money in Colorado.

"I understand that Rick Santorum made a fairly modest ad buy, and I've heard a couple of radio spots, including one from Mitt Romney," Call allows. "And all of the campaigns are running phone-bank operations where they're calling likely caucus-goers, encouraging them to show up. Governor Romney has done a number of prerecorded calls from leading Republicans for whom Coloradans have a great deal of respect -- folks like [attorney general] John Suthers. I also received a live call from the Rick Santorum campaign, and a 527 group associated with him has done some auto-dial call outs. But I think the Romney campaign probably has the largest phone-bank operation as far as live calls and prerecorded robo-calls.

"A broad-based media campaign is not nearly as effective as a person-to-person connection" in a caucus state, Call points out. "There's a lot of education you need to give the voter -- helping them find their caucus location, and convincing them to spend an hour-and-a-half of their Tuesday to get there and participate."

How many will do so? Call predicts between 60,000 and 70,000 Coloradans. The latter is the number drawn in 2008 -- meaning that a record turnout is unlikely. But he doesn't think a lower number should be interpreted as confirming exit polls in other states, which suggest many voters are dissatisfied with their current choices.

"The enthusiasm I'm hearing is largely centered on defeating Barack Obama," he says. "The voters and activists are emphasizing that we can't afford four more years of explosion of federal debt and dismal economic growth that we've seen from the Obama administration. The vast majority who give me their two cents' worth are quick to tell me they'll support whoever the nominee is, because they understand the stakes are so high. And I'm confident that we can get any of these fine gentlemen across the finish line if they become our nominee."

Call adds that Republicans who haven't yet registered at Caucus.ColoGOP.org -- about 40,000 had visited the site through yesterday afternoon -- can still participate in the caucuses. They can simply show up at their precinct tomorrow night.

In the meantime, he's excited about all the campaign events slated for today and tomorrow. "This is what Colorado Republicans had hoped for by moving up the date of our caucus," he says. "It underscores the importance of our state in the general election. All of the candidates competing has brought a great deal of energy and attention to our state in ways that I think will ultimately translate to success come November."

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More from our Politics archive: "Ron Paul blasts Newt Gingrich as serial hypocrite in advance of Colorado appearances."


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