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Romney, Ryan rock Red Rocks

Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, make a rare joint rally Tuesday at Red Rocks amphitheater in Denver. Romney whipped up an enthusiastic crowd from a stage made to look like a Rocky Mountain ranch, with fences and an arrangement of evergreen trees, autumn shrubs and granite rocks. Enlarge photo

Joe Hanel/Durango Herald

Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, make a rare joint rally Tuesday at Red Rocks amphitheater in Denver. Romney whipped up an enthusiastic crowd from a stage made to look like a Rocky Mountain ranch, with fences and an arrangement of evergreen trees, autumn shrubs and granite rocks.

DENVER – Mitt Romney painted Red Rocks blue Tuesday night and packed Denver’s most famous concert venue with 10,000 screaming supporters.

Romney’s crew bathed the iconic rock formations in blue light and a white, stylized “R” that Romney uses for his campaign symbol.

Kid Rock opened the rally, which included a rare joint appearance with Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan. Hundreds of supporters were turned away in long security lines.

For Romney, it was a show of strength just as his campaign is seeking to project confidence that he will coast through the last two weeks of the election.

He began by mentioning the debates that ended Monday night.

“They have supercharged our campaign, I’ll tell you that,” Romney said. “We are on the homestretch now, and I think the people of Colorado are going to get us there.”

Romney’s campaign has concentrated hard on Colorado this week, with Ryan rallying the troops Monday in Durango, Pueblo and Grand Junction. The state is one of several must-win swing states for Romney, while President Barack Obama could close off one of the Republican’s best routes to victory with a win here.

Obama will campaign today in Denver.

Romney repeated an argument he made in Monday night’s debate, saying Obama is too focused on attacking his opponents.

“Attacks on us, that does not make an agenda for the future,” Romney said. “What you’re seeing from the Obama campaign is an incredibly shrinking campaign.”

Obama’s campaign spokeswoman, Lis Smith, made similar charges against Romney.

“Last night, he was exposed as reckless and wrong on foreign policy and failed to present any specific plans for what he’d do as president. If he’s hoping that voters will buy his Romnesia on everything from his support for keeping our troops bogged down in endless wars to his plan to raise middle-class taxes to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, he’s sorely mistaken,” Smith said in a prepared statement.

Romney also kept up the tough talk about China that he displayed during the last debate.

“If nations cheat at trade, and China has cheated, I will stop it. I will not allow them to steal our jobs,” Romney said.

His running mate said the debates showed Romney had passed the test to prove to the country he’s ready for the White House.

“Last night, we witnessed for a third time a man who is ready to be a great president,” Ryan said.

Back in late summer when he first joined the GOP ticket, Ryan often drew more enthusiastic applause at rallies than Romney. Not so Tuesday night.

Romney had to begin his speech several times as cheers drowned him out.

Democrats scoffed at Romney for holding the rally at Red Rocks amphitheater, which was built by government workers employed by New Deal social spending programs that President Franklin Roosevelt started in an effort to end the Depression.

ProgressNow Colorado was among the groups calling out the Romney campaign.

“Red Rocks amphitheater, in addition to being a beloved symbol of culture and natural beauty to all Coloradans, was built by what Mitt Romney and the Republican Party would today derisively call ‘stimulus money,’” said ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Joanne Schwartz.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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