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MEEKER I Rio Blanco County Democrats Reed and Kathleen Kelley were among the crowd that turned out Saturday for President Obama’s visit to Grand Junction.
While there were plenty of people in attendance who opposed the president’s health care reform proposals, the Kelleys said the exchange of ideas was, well, healthy.
“The president was gracious and thoughtful in his engagement with the crowd, taking considerable care in answering each question presented,” Kathleen Kelley said. “Particularly commendable was the fact that those who asked the questions were randomly chosen by the president. Their questions, as a whole, indicated they were clearly not total health care reform supporters.”
However, Kathleen said, “it was uplifting to note just how moved most everyone was that the president of the United States had come to western Colorado to lead this discussion. Each questioner expressed their personal appreciation for his being there.”
The Kelleys had the “special privilege” of escorting two Grand Junction Central High School students to the event.
“Both young men got to sit on the stage, with numerous other volunteers, behind the president — up close and personal witnesses to national history taking shape in the Grand Valley,” Kathleen said. “Experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime event through the eyes of these teenage men made us both realize how important it is that we keep hold of optimism and hope for the future.”
Reed Kelley said he and his wife were offered tickets to hear the president through the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, which was facilitated by Colorado Congressman John Salazar’s office.
Afterward, the Kelleys saw Meeker native Matt Smith, a former state representative from Grand Junction, who also had been in attendance. He is the brother-in-law of Scott McInnis, a Republican candidate for governor in 2010.
“While the president was speaking, the First Lady and the Obamas’ two daughters were off picking some of ‘those famous Palisade peaches,’” Kathleen Kelley said.
Despite the political rancor on both sides over health care reform, the Kelleys left Saturday’s event feeling hopeful for a brighter future.
“This shouldn’t be a vitriolic, partisan debate,” Kathleen said. “It should be something we all work out collectively together, in order to find a substantive solution that will better America.”