Mile-High Headlines for Thursday, October 23

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The Power of the Centennial State
First came Sarah Palin. Next, the anti-Palin, Joe Biden, swept through. John McCain will return on Friday. Hoping to steal his thunder, Senator Hillary Clinton also arrives Friday, to praise Barack Obama, who is holding a rally on Sunday (via The Denver Post). You are witnessing the power of Colorado, which, despite our piddly nine Electoral College votes, could determine the outcome of the presidential race. Republicans can usually count on Colorado, but polls show the Dems leading. And without Colorado, McCain is in deep trouble, as this Newsweek blog explains, with math so detailed it could fill an entire Panorama newsletter. Essentially, Newsweek writes, New Mexico and Iowa are “lost causes” to the McCain camp. Without Colorado, his best chances are to turn one of the states Democrat John Kerry won in 2004 red. But there are slim pickins on that front, including Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Obama’s decision to avoid federal funds gives him a cash advantage when he needs it most, according to Bloomberg News, leaving McCain in a “nightmarish version of the carnival game Whack-a-Mole” as Obama operatives pop up everywhere, including Colorado.

Sarah Palin: In Focus
It’s tough keeping up with Sarah Palin. Although the Republican Alaska governor is long gone following her visit to Colorado earlier this week, the Internet continues to light up with her name. In this video from Grand Junction, protesters are manhandled by police as Palin’s motorcade passes through. Then there’s the third grader who asks Palin what the vice president does. She gives the kid just enough misinformation to fail a civics test (via a Los Angeles Times blog). There’s also her cozy radio interview with James Dobson, the evangelical patriarch of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. In a reference to the “mainstream media” (code for “liberal journalists”), Palin says she’s now relying on “faith that God’s going to help us get that message out there” and that “God’s perfect will will be done on November the fourth” (via Beliefnet, which provides a handy transcript). And about that $150,000 wardrobe that was supposed to help Palin make her case with voters… The Washington Post’s award-winning fashion columnist slams the makeover as “not careless image management” but, rather, as “ill-advised and ill-informed” and “seriously bad judgment.”

Buh-Bye Political Money
Political money is leaving Colorado, an indication, it appears, that the political dye has been cast here. We’ll let you decide whether the fact that John McCain’s presidential campaign “has drastically slashed television advertising at Colorado’s big three stations” (via The Denver Post) portends bad news for the GOP. On the other side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is ending its television advertising in Colorado within the week, a signal that Representative Mark Udall “is comfortably ahead of” former congressman Bob Schaffer, a Republican, in the U.S. Senate race, according to another Post article. About a week ago, the National Republican Senatorial Committee allegedly withdrew its support of Schaffer, in a controversy Panorama touched on earlier this week. Now Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican fighting Dem Betsy Markey to hold onto her Fourth Congressional District seat, is also losing television advertising support from the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Rocky Mountain News. Musgrave’s spin is that the decision means she’s got the election sewn up, but a Markey spokesman argues the move shows that Musgrave’s negative ads have backfired.

Denver’s Burrito Index Falters
I’m coining a new phrase, The Denver Burrito Index, which gauges the economy solely by the strength of Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s sales. This index shows the economy is regrettably slowing. The company, known for its healthy (yet paradoxically gigantic) burritos, posted its first profit decline since going public in 2006, according to Reuters, which highlights “worries” that “financially stressed consumers will skip even more restaurant visits as they weather a housing slump, credit crisis and rising unemployment.” Indeed, the Colorado Business Leaders Confidence Index went up only four-tenths of a percentage point, “signaling another quarter of below-potential growth,” according to the Denver Business Journal. Yesterday brought another hint that deep recession is on the way. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 514 points, according to The Wall Street Journal, altogether down nearly 40 percent from its record high last year.

Boulder Poised for Pizza Crackdown
Boulder’s peace-and-quiet brigade is taking aim, once again, at University of Colorado students and one of their most cherished institutions. No, not another keg-chugging fraternity. This time it’s Abo’s Pizza. The crown jewel of the 18 popular New York-style pizza restaurants along the Front Range sits on University Hill, where Boulder’s Planning Board is considering some rezoning, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. Rezoning is wonk-speak for forcing Abo’s and other merchants on the Hill to close early–11 p.m. to be exact. It’s all part of an effort to “reduce noise and disturbances.” Although the board seems far from a decision based on the Camera’s reporting, Abo’s and other merchants are going to party on the Hill just the same to send a message to the board that late-night pizza is as all-American as apple pie.

Sort of Mapping the Slopes
If you get one of those neat vintage-looking maps with all of Colorado’s ski mountains, you won’t be able to find Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, or Keystone. No, the mountains haven’t melted into indentations as a result of global warming or anything like that. Rather, Ski Country, which promotes Colorado’s ski industry, omitted the areas because Vail Resorts has left the trade group’s fold, according to The Aspen Times. Vail Resorts, which runs the aforementioned ski areas, left Ski Country because it “focused too much on marketing and not enough on public policy,” according to the Times, which doesn’t go into specifics about the clash in its story. The paper notes, as we did previously here, that Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are now open for skiing in Colorado. And yep, they’re on the map.

Down and Out in Denver
Okay, where were we when it comes to injured Denver Broncos? First, on defense, recall the Baileys: Boss is now confirmed out for the season. Champ is out for at least a month. Now we learn that backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey, seen during six plays against the Patriots on Monday night, “reaggravated a right elbow injury,” according to the Rocky Mountain News. He’s out for the rest of the season as QB Darrell Hackney, from the practice squad, moves to the active roster, and coaches keep their eyes open for possible veteran backup QBs. Tackle Erik Pears had an appendectomy in Massachusetts Sunday night and is now on “reserve/non football injury, which finishes his season as well.”

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