FORT COLLINS — About a dozen northern Colorado small business owners had lunch at a long table in Fort Collins on Friday to talk about how President Trump was helping the local economy.
The ringleader was U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who lives not far away in Windsor and serves as the state Republican Party chairman. They were joined by Larimer County GOP chair Gino Campana.
Small though it was, the event marked the first publicized push by the president's re-election campaign, called Trump Victory, to stir up votes in the former swing state.
Democrats, however, swept the state races last November, and early polling shows the electorate rejects Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.
Those taking part in the economic roundtable at The Farmhouse restaurant told stories of economic fortunes driven by Trump's leadership on tax cuts and deregulation.
Buck said that while Trump's trade war with China might be inflicting pain on Colorado farmers, it was an action that had to be taken to punish Chinese transgressions that go back decades.
"China has cheated for 50 years," Buck began. "For 40 years we said, 'It's OK; they're a developing company. They're not an economic force.' It's no longer OK if they cheat.
"This president has a backbone to call China out on that cheating. There are going to be short-term economic consequences. Hopefully Europe and some other economic groups will get on board and put enough pressure on China that we get past this relatively quickly."
Buck told the group that he had served in Congress during the end of President Obama's eight-year term and the beginning of Trump's.
"The difference is night and day," Buck said. "The difference is between the regulations that were imposed under President Obama that were job-killing regulations that forced jobs overseas. They were regulations that suffocated our economy, that led to one of the worst economic performances of any president in modern history."
Historians and economists, however, have disagreed with Buck's stark assessment.
In May the business publication Barron's noted that Trump's economic growth during his term so far is even or slightly less robust than the average annualized growth over Obama's eight years, which including recovering from one of the worst economic downturns in generations.
The Farmhouse lunch Friday was the first Colorado stop for the Trump campaign's nationwide Open for Business tour.
The tour kicked off two weeks ago in Iowa.
The economy and putting conservative judges on the federal bench have been offered as a reason for moderates to support the president.
“Seriously?" replied David Pourshoushtari, communications director for the state Democratic Party, when told of the GOP event. He included in the email a picture of Trump hawking Trump Steaks, a failed business venture.
"Colorado has one of the strongest economies in the nation, and that’s no thanks to President Trump or Senator [Cory] Gardner. While Colorado has thrived under the leadership of Democratic governors, economists have shown that President Trump has put our nation at risk of recession. Whether it’s his reckless trade war with China that’s hurting our farmers, tax giveaways for the ultra-wealthy or erratic tweets that’s thrown the market into chaos, President Trump has shown he knows just as much about leading an economy as he did launching Trump steaks.”
The conservative Independence Institute in Denver is putting on an event Tuesday in Denver to hear about the president's role in the economy from Stephen Moore, who last year published the book "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy."
The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the institute's Freedom Embassy at 727 E. 16th Ave. Tickets are $25 each and can be bought online by clicking here.