The road to the White House is running straight through the Western Slope. Republican front-runner Mitt Romney became the second GOP candidate to make a campaign stop this side of the Rockies.
At his rally of voters on Monday, he started off on the offensive.
"Based on the President's own standard, he has failed," Romney declared. "He does not deserve a second term!"
The Governor's rhetoric was responded with cheers during his 20 minute speech at the Country Inns of America hotel off of Horizon Drive.
Hundreds of constituents showed up hours before. In fact, so many came out that dozens were forced to stand outside during the rally. "You see images of them all the time, it's nice to see the person in real life," Jason Bittle said. He was there to learn more about Romney after attending Rick Santorum's Saturday rally in Montrose.
Governor Romney spent virtually no time addressing his three major rivals in the Republican race. Instead, he focused on President Obama and the debt he says the president is responsible for.
"It's not just bad economics and bad politics to keep spending more money than you take in," Romney declared. "I think it's immoral for us to pass on those burdens to [the next] generation."
The statement invoked a rouse of cheers from the crowd. "This man is good," Gaydra McCallister said as she looked on.
Romney also focused on energy development - an issue that has provided dozens of Western Slope families with frustrations and relief over the past few years.
"Of course we have to have clean air and clean water, but we don't have to have an Environmental Protection Agency that blocks the development of our oil, our coal, our gas production," Romney said. He went on to vow a change to what he called the unnecessarily long process of getting drillers up and running and thus increasing the number of available jobs.
"America will be energy sufficient and energy independent from oil cartels," he said if he's elected.
Romney supporter Kirk Conn applauded the candidate's experience saying it is what this country is ready for and needs. "We need a businessman in the White House, not an attorney and not a career politician."
The words of encouragement add nothing but momentum to the campaign. Heading into Tuesday's caucus date, Mr. Romney recognized the importance of a third straight state win. "Colorado is a big, important state right now," he said. "Colorado is going to probably give a good send off to one of us."
Education was another subject that came up during a one-on-one interview between Romney and KJCT News 8.
Over the years with western Colorado school districts absorbing millions of dollars in budget cuts, Facebook friend Sandy Pottorff wanted to know the front-runner's feelings on education, it's availability and vulnerability considering the funding options.
"I was very pleased in my state that we worked very hard - actually before I became Governor and during my term - to help drive our state to be number one in the nation," Romney answered.
He went on to say school choice, student and teacher evaluations and making sure the kids are taken care of first are keys to getting schools up to national and international standards.
"I believe this man may be able to get us back on track," Dan Moore believes.
Also during our allotted one-on-one time, Romney addressed the controversial subject of medical marijuana and whether it should be a state or national issue.
"I'm not in favor of legalizing marijuana and I think in too many cases medical marijuana has been used for recreational uses," he explained. "I would like to see a national standard that says marijuana is not legal in the United States."
Addressing constituents, Romney spoke at length about President Obama's health care law. "His view is that the government knows best," Romney described before saying he believes it should be in the state's hands.
Also on stage during the rally, the Governor tried separating himself from the president by hitting close to home for many in western Colorado. At one point, he asked for a show of hands from active military and veterans in the audience. He then proceeded to explain military as a priority.
"I would increase ship building from nine a year to 15... I will also make sure that we add 100,000 troops to our active personnel as opposed to cutting it and I will finally give our veterans the care they deserve," he said to a roar of cheers.
Some in the crowd who came unsure, left convinced. "He believes in America and so do I," Mary Jefferson said.
And every voter we spoke to plans to make good on Romney's call to action to attend a caucus on Tuesday.