- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

CASTLE PINES, Colo. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie returned to Colorado Friday to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez in a race Christie calls a dead heat.

Christie was at a charter school in Castle Pines, a bedroom community south of Denver, where he and Beauprez read to children and toured a science and technology classroom.

Afterward, Christie criticized Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for what he called “absent leadership” and cited Hickenlooper’s decision to grant an indefinite stay of execution to Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted for the 1993 slayings of killing four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s.

“Offering clemency to a murderer is not showing leadership in this state. I don’t think it’s what the people want,” Christie said.

Hickenlooper’s decision was not clemency because a subsequent governor can still order Dunlap’s execution.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio countered by saying Hickenlooper “feels like it’s time for the people of Colorado to have a conversation about the death penalty, and he personally believes strongly that a civilized nation doesn’t have a place taking someone else’s life.”

Palacio also said Christie is trying to draw attention away from Beauprez saying earlier this week that intrauterine devices, or IUDs, a common form of birth control, are “an abortifacient,” meaning they cause abortions. Palacio called Beauprez’s comment a “very extreme position.”

“It’s interesting that Chris Christie is out here trying to change the subject away from what is a very important topic to the families in Colorado,” Palacio said.

Christie, considered a possible presidential contender, has been campaigning around the country for GOP candidates as head of the Republican Governors Association. He previously visited Colorado in July and pledged the RGA’s support for Beauprez.

“We can consider this an absolute dead-heat race. That’s how we have it as, and I think that’s the way it’s going to be between now and Election Day,” Christie said. “I don’t expect a blowout in either direction.”

Christie said he plans to return to Colorado at least once more before the election, and said the RGA would be spending more money on television ads. Already, the RGA has spent more than $3 million on the race, he said.

That help is crucial for Beauprez because Hickenlooper has as a vast fundraising advantage. Hickenlooper has raised nearly $4.6 million - about four times more than Beauprez. Hickenlooper’s campaign has also spent about $2.4 million in television advertising, and the Democratic Governors Association is also helping him.

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Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IvanJourno

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