Catherine Carson, chairwoman of the Routt County Democratic Party, and delegate Joanna Erickson go through buttons at a democratic gathering at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill last week.

Photo by John F. Russell

Catherine Carson, chairwoman of the Routt County Democratic Party, and delegate Joanna Erickson go through buttons at a democratic gathering at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill last week.

Clinton, Obama debate hits home

Routt County Democrats engaged in lively presidential candidate conversation


Convention clamor

Catherine Carson, chairwoman of the Routt County Democratic Party, said 53 county residents are slated to attend the Colorado Democratic Party's 2008 State Assembly and Convention, Friday and Saturday in Colorado Springs.

Delegates and alternates who attend the event will be caught up in a rapid schedule of assemblies and conventions for the 14th Judicial District, Colorado's Third Congressional District, House District 57 and Senate District 8. Delegates will vote for Democratic candidates in local, regional and state races along with supporting planks in the party platform, a process that began with precinct caucuses in February.

"It's going to be a very busy weekend," Carson said.

For more on the convention, visit www.coloradostate...

— Across the nation, politically active Democrats are engaging in a spirited debate about whom their party should nominate for president.

The same is true in Routt County.

"We do have some passionate people on both sides - we really do," said Lynn Abbott, secretary for the Routt County Democratic Party.

Examples are Murray and JoAnne Tucker, who recently spent 20 days in Pittsburgh volunteering for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama; Elizabeth Black, who favors U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and will travel to Colorado Springs this week as a county delegate for the state Democratic assembly and convention; and Steamboat Springs High School seniors Taylor Miller-Freutel and Victoria Lavington, who favor Obama and Clinton, respectively, with equal fervor.

Although Obama won a 428-148 victory in Routt County caucuses in February and as of Saturday had all but erased Clinton's lead in superdelegates nationwide, the results are not swaying local supporters of the former First Lady.

"She's a very hard worker," said Black, a financial analyst for Millennium Bank. "When you read her background, she really takes a very diplomatic approach to changing systems and is very effective."

Holly Nelson said much of her support for Clinton comes from Nelson's time as a resident of Arkansas, when former President Bill Clinton was the state's governor.

"She did a lot for the education system in Arkansas, as well as health care for children there," Nelson said last week. "I just have a lot of respect for her and feel that she will do a good job as president - I don't have the same feeling about Obama."

Miller-Freutel does.

"I think he's going to bring something different that another Clinton won't bring," she said. "I think he's grown up in a way that makes him aware of the rest of the world, not just a certain group of people."

Miller-Freutel said Steamboat Springs High School is an example of Obama's often-touted appeal to young voters.

"I'm seeing (support for Obama) at the high school quite a bit. We connect with him more than Hillary," she said. "I think his energy and charisma capture young voters really well."

Not so with Lavington. She acknowledged that she is "most definitely" in a minority as a young Clinton supporter but said Obama's youth appeal is just hype.

"I think the media kind of overdoes it with Obama, always making him look like the good guy. She'll go into office and start working right away," Lavington said, citing Clinton's experience in the White House. "I think Obama is more of a now guy - I don't know if he'll be able to sustain (his ideals) for the future."

Unity in June?

During their time knocking on doors in Pittsburgh, the Tuckers cemented their support for a candidate they believe would have a lasting impact in the White House.

"Barack Obama is a new voice in national politics," Murray Tucker wrote in a reflection on the trip, which culminated in meeting Obama personally on an airport runway. "I came to the realization that it is the philosophy of a candidate that guides the truly great presidents and not the rhetoric that is used to sway the voter."

Murray Tucker said Obama was "warm and unhurried" during their brief meeting, despite the candidate's chaotic campaign schedule.

Murray Tucker and Abbott said they swayed their support to Obama after initially favoring John Edwards.

"I've had quite a migration with this," Abbott said of her support, which still favors Clinton's health care plan but ultimately resides with Obama, who she described as "centered" and able to weather political storms.

"I see a truth and veracity in him that I don't see in Hillary," Abbott said.

Catherine Carson, chairwoman of the county party, said she is not yet supporting one candidate over another but expressed confidence that the party will soon unite.

"I think after the primaries (end) in June, I think that the party is going to come together and have a united candidate," Carson said.

Supporting both campaigns keeps more Democrats involved, she said.

"You don't want to discourage someone," Carson said. "I want to keep everyone excited."


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