- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DENVER — Julissa Belmontes and her friends at Abraham Lincoln High School here all used the same word to describe President Obama: cool.

“He’s a really cool president,” said Julissa, standing in line with a half-dozen friends to hear the president’s speech at her high school Tuesday.

As to whether Mr. Obama can capture Colorado in 2012, they’re not so sure. Mr. Obama won the state by 9 percentage points in 2008, but as the girls pointed out, the economy is in worse shape than it was then.

“He’s a good president,” said Aaliyah Leal, “but there’s no jobs.”

At which point Julissa decided that being cool isn’t enough. “Nobody has jobs,” Julissa said. “He’s a bad president.”

Even the coolest president may not be able to win re-election without jobs, which is why Mr. Obama ended his three-day trip to push his jobs bill in Colorado, a swing state that could be crucial to bid for a second term.

He spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at Lincoln High, located in a heavily Hispanic, lower-income neighborhood that’s been hard hit by the recession.

The emphasis was on the public-school component of his American Jobs Act. The $447 billion plan calls for $25 billion to rebuild and renovate aging public schools such as Abraham Lincoln, which was built in 1960.

“[T]hings like science labs, for example, take money to upgrade. And the ones here at Lincoln High were built decades ago, back in the 1960s,” Mr. Obama said. “Science and technology have changed just a little bit since then.”

Renovating schools will result in more construction jobs, as well as inject funding for teaching positions, he said.

“Tell Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, and there will be funding to save the jobs of thousands of Colorado teachers — and cops and firefighters, too,” Mr. Obama said.

The president was joined by a host of Colorado Democratic luminaries, including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar, a former U.S. senator for the state.

There were a handful of protesters outside the event, but they were greatly outnumbered by the hundreds of Obama supporters in line for the president’s speech. Among those was Tyrone Burks, wearing a red pro-Obama T-shirt with the message, “Change We Can Believe In.”

He agreed that the job market is sluggish, but said that Mr. Obama was not to blame because he inherited a sagging economy from the previous administration.

“I’m not blaming this on him. He just stepped into it,” Mr. Burks said. “He came into a bad situation and we know that. But he’s working on improving things, and he’s getting it done, slowly but surely.”

John and Barbara Plungy were unable to secure tickets, so they set up chairs across the street from the high school and waved signs with messages like, “GOP Work With Obama.”

“We’re retired, and we’re coming to work for him,” Mrs. Plungy said. “We’re really disgusted with the Republicans.”

Dan Gerou also put blame for the economy on the Republican Party. “He [Mr. Obama] needs to hold his ground and not cave in to the Republicans on everything,” he said.

Among the few dissenters was Lelan Robinson, representing the Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party and wearing a Ronald Reagan lapel button. Mr. Robinson said he wasn’t impressed with the president’s jobs package.

“The jobs plan? It’s just more taxes. The government isn’t designed to create jobs,” Mr. Robinson said.

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