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Voters In Colorado, A Key Swing State, React To Impeachment Proceedings


To Denver now - that is where Colorado Public Radio's Bente Birkeland checked in with voters to see how they're feeling about President Trump's impeachment trial.

BENTE BIRKELAND, BYLINE: At a light rail stop outside Denver, 26-year-old college student Emily Alameddin says she isn't really following the impeachment trial.

EMILY ALAMEDDIN: It's just so close to November. It feels like it's probably a waste of money, you know, and, like, lots of time and stuff. But I also think that if he did something wrong that we can't let it slide. We need to show people that you can't just get away with anything.

BIRKELAND: Colorado has trended increasingly Democratic in recent years, but it still has deep pockets of Republican voters. One-time Trump voter Johnell Howard says he's closely following the impeachment trial. He works in construction and a McDonald's. Howard is keeping an open mind about the allegations against Trump and says if Democrats make their case, he could be persuaded to vote for a Democrat like Joe Biden this year.

JOHNELL HOWARD: I'm still waiting to see. I'm still waiting to see. It's still like a 50-50, you know?

BIRKELAND: Howard voted for Barack Obama twice and considers himself a moderate. But if Democrats don't convince him on impeachment, Howard plans to stick with Trump.

HOWARD: Well, he talked a good game. He said a lot of things he was going to do and change. I mean, he did some things. But most of the things he said, far as when he was running for president, he didn't get to yet.

BIRKELAND: Another Trump voter is Justin Conrad, who describes himself as a blue-collar trade worker. He says he doesn't trust the evidence he's seen presented by both sides and isn't convinced by the Democrats' arguments.

JUSTIN CONRAD: There's been just a lot of reaching out, a lot of hoping that we can impeach him because they don't like him. It feels - I mean, he has done a lot of good, and he's done some not-so-good. I mean, every president does.

BIRKELAND: On the opposite end of the political spectrum is Democrat Daniel Urioste. He says he just wants Trump out of office, however that happens. But he also thinks it's a foregone conclusion the Republican-controlled Senate will acquit Trump. The trial, he says, has become a circus, which is why he stopped paying attention.

DANIEL URIOSTE: And now it's just so - it's so polarized. It's...

BIRKELAND: Urioste works in hotel maintenance and meets people from around the world. He's concerned about the example the U.S. is setting.

URIOSTE: We're supposed to be the leaders and show people how it's done. And you need to strive to be us. And look how great America is. Come over to us. And now it's just not like that.

BIRKELAND: Colorado's Republican Senator Cory Gardner was eyed as a swing vote in the impeachment trial. Just yesterday, he announced he won't vote for witnesses. While Gardner's 2020 race is expected to be one of the most closely watched in the country, most of these voters say it's not on their radar yet.

For NPR News, I'm Bente Birkeland in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bente Birkeland has covered Colorado politics and government since spring of 2006. She loves the variety and challenge of the state capitol beat and talking to people from all walks of life. Bente's work has aired on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, American PublicMedia's Marketplace, and she was a contributor for WNYC's The Next Big Thing. She has won numerous local and national awards, including best beat reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. Bente grew up in Minnesota and England, and loves skiing, hiking, and is an aspiring cello player. She lives in Lakewood with her husband.
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