- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

AURORA, Colo. (AP) - Hillary Clinton returned to Colorado Tuesday for her second visit in eight days to help embattled Sen. Mark Udall and others on the Democratic ticket in a state that will be critical to her should she run for the presidency in 2016.

Clinton spoke to about 1,000 supporters in a crowded ballroom in this swing suburb and made sure to repeatedly praise both Udall and two other Democrats in tough races - Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Coffman in the congressional district that includes Aurora.

But Udall was on everyone’s mind. The one-term senator has trailed in recent polls against Rep. Cory Gardner and even some Democrats have privately questioned his campaign’s unrelenting focus on women’s issues. His relentless attacks against Gardner, who opposes abortion rights, have earned him a parody twitter account called Mark Uterus.

Clinton said Udall was emphasizing the right things. “Women’s rights here and around the world are clearly at risk,” she said. “It’s a big deal in this election.”

She also urged attendees to volunteer for campaigns and urge their friends and neighbors to vote. Colorado Democrats are counting on their historically strong get-out-the-vote operation to close the gap with Republicans, and may be aided by a new law their party pushed through the legislature that mails ballots to every voter and allow citizens to register to vote through Election Day.

Clinton was in Denver on Oct. 13 for a Udall fundraiser and a brief tour through the city’s renovated Union Station. On Tuesday, the presidential election was on everyone’s minds in this perennial swing state.

Romanoff revved up the crowd by asking: “Are you ready to hear from the next president of the United States?” And Udall noted Clinton had just been in town a week ago.

“I guess she can’t stay away from Colorado,” Udall said. “I just hope she’s going to come back a few times in the next couple of years.”

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Follow Nicholas Riccardi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NickRiccardi .

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