Let’s not avoid the, er, elephant in the room.
Four years ago, most of Colorado’s contingent to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland walked out in protest of President Donald Trump, who was not the first choice of any of the state’s delegates. That was Ted Cruz, who had a terrible relationship with Trump back then.
Colorado’s role in this year's event came down to Ken Buck, who on Monday, took to the brief limelight to pledge all 37 of Colorado delegates to Trump “to keep America great again for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence."
Besides being a former district attorney, an author and a congressman pledged to the uber-conservative Freedom Caucus, Buck is chairman of the Colorado Republican Party and chairs the state's delegation to the RNC.
Few were in Charlotte this year, so if any Republicans walked out this year, they went out in their yard to breathe the smoky Colorado air.
The convention is Trump's chance to reenergize his campaign, which has been knocked off its wheels by the pandemic, recession, social unrest and Trump's scandals and flubs.
If Trump is in trouble, then hanging on to the U.S. Senate is paramount to slowing the left's agenda. That means Republicans have to defend Colorado's U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner against the perceived political tide.
Trump can't simply rally his MAGA army to help out in states such as Colorado. He lost by 5 percentage points four years ago. Now Trump has a record to run on and troubles to explain.
It would be a tough backdrop for any incumbent, however: 178,000 dead and more than 57 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits since March, plus a gridlocked Congress.
Sunday on "Meet the Press," former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, born to a Baptist minister in Colorado Springs, said his party should look forward, not back, and shelve the grievances and grandstanding.
So far, however, the convention has been the usual menu of economy, immigration, guns, abortion, cancel culture, fake news and the Family Trump.
"He built a thriving economy once and he'll do it again," said rarely seen first daughter Tiffany Trump, before turning on the media and tech giants to allege bias against conservatives Tuesday night.
She took an indirect shot at the portrait painted of Democratic nominee Joe Biden via last week's Democratic National Convention.
"They mask themselves in disguises of decency, as they try to pressure us to mask our own identities and beliefs," Tiffany Trump said.
First lady Melania Trump was the star attraction Tuesday night in the White House Rose Garden she redesigned. Yes, there are plenty of questions about the legality of using the White House for a political campaign event.
"I'm here because we need my husband to be our president and commander in chief for four more years," she said. "He is what is best for our country. We all know Donald Trump makes no secret about how he feels about things. Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president."
Trump will give his official address from the White House Thursday night.
In the audience will be Lauren Boebert, the maverick Republican nominee in Congressional District 3. Trump, however, endorsed incumbent Scott Tipton in the primary. Things change.
This week, Gardner, one of the most endangered Republicans in D.C., had no luck piercing the national spotlight to associate with the president, for better or worse.
Gardner is doing everything he can to localize the race, to make his reelection a campaign about his ideas, his likability and his accessibility against those of his Democratic challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
As the convention started on Monday, Gardner was visiting an energy co-op in Akron, the hospital in Wray about a $50,000 grant for COVID-19 testing, then a stop in Brush to talk about small businesses, before heading home to Yuma to do Zoom calls. Tuesday was more campaigning, including a live online chat with the Colorado Water Congress.
“I’d rather be in Colorado any day,” he joked Monday night on his car phone about the convention in Charlotte.
The senator said he was unconcerned about the party’s decision not to have an official platform for Trump this year. Not one to agitate the irksome president, Gardner said he has his own platform: Colorado.
If he had been asked to speak at the RNC, he would have talked about what the state has accomplished under Republicans in Washington.
“How we’ve grown Colorado’s economy, how we’ll get back to that growing economy after COVID-19, how we’ve opened up Space Command, moved the Bureau of Land Management here, beginning construction on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, returned Anvil Points energy dollars, finished the VA hospital, new Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson, expanded the operations at Schriever Air Force Base; you name it, the work we’ve done on the Great American Outdoors Act.
“There’s a lot of things we could talk about that’s made Colorado more successful.”
That wouldn't have been a welcome deflection from the party for Trump, just guessing. Gardner, however, has proven to be skilled at creating space from controversy when he needs to, yet spreading his arms when he needs a Republican embrace.
That is exactly the kind of convention this needed to be, but Charlotte ain't Yuma.