Well, that didn't go as well as it could have. President Donald Trump came to Colorado Springs Thursday night, but he failed to launch a Hail Mary to outer space by awarding the U.S. Space Command. Everyone I've talked to for a week thought he would.
The incumbent president, with the incumbent Republican U.S. senator at this side, needed to make the case that they both deserve a second term.
Polls haven't portrayed either as very popular in Colorado, but polls have underestimated Trump before. With that notion, I’ve provided analysis in this space as recently as Monday that a lot can go wrong on the way to the Colorado Democrats' victory party in November.
And the life of Donald Trump is nothing if not a testament to the art of the deal.
The deal on the table is the United States Space Command. Colorado will have to wait longer.
"For Space Force, as to where it's going to be located, and I know you want it," before a pregnant pause to build suspense, "we'll be making that decision before the end of the year."
He diverged into a story about sports at the U.S. Air Force Academy in El Paso County and how a muscular cadet was excited to shake his hand.
"We're going to be making that decision, Cory, when we make that decision," he said, returning to the subject and his host.
If blue-trending Colorado could yield its Electoral College votes to Trump, then locating the U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs would seem fair trade to a transactional president. Heck, it was only a few months ago he was talking about building his "beautiful wall" here, and Colorado doesn't even border Mexico.
The president predicted he would win Colorado in a landslide. He also said Gardner's support had never wavered. I guess, other than that time Gardner called Trump "a buffoon" and that his words about immigrants were unacceptable.
"He's got my complete and total support and endorsement," Trump said of Gardner. "He will never let you down."
The incumbent who loves the campaign crowds was high in the Rockies Thursday and on his way to Vegas on Friday before Saturday's Nevada caucuses, while the Democrats are in a deep disarray that seems to crater anew with each debate and vote.
In a year like this, why shouldn't Trump offer up a Jedi Headquarters to make Colorado Springs its New Republic City? Mexico didn't pay for the wall, and it hasn't mattered. Hillary Clinton wasn't locked up, but plenty of Trump's associates were. Left or right, promises in the heat of a campaign burn up in the ether.
The Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC thanked the president for coming to town Thursday night, announcement or not. It was a great opportunity to showcase local support, said Reggie Ash, the chamber’s chief defense development officer.
"We will continue to collaborate with statewide partners to let decision makers, including President Trump and his advisers, know why we’re the clear choice,” he said. "We’re the epicenter of national space security. We have the highest concentration of aerospace employees in the nation. We’re home to six military installations. We support our military bases, service members, veterans and their families. And we have a reputation for space innovation.
"We’re committed to securing the permanent headquarters."
My friend Ian Silverii, one of the sharpest Democrats anywhere, saw through the transactional president’s endgame of bait and switch in Colorado, as we texted Thursday afternoon to avoid disturbing his newborn son.
"Donald Trump is coming to Colorado to seal Cory Gardner's fate once and for all," said Ian, the executive director of the liberal advocacy machine ProgressNow Colorado. "This is a state that is already hostile to Trump and the failing Republican brand, and there's nothing about this visit that will help either of them win Colorado in November.
"As for Cory Gardner, he has no choice but to cling to Trump's vanishing coattails or he loses the Republican base. Poll after poll shows both Gardner and Trump going down in flames this November, and I, for one, am just grateful for the photographs of Trump and Gardner that are bound to come out of this event."
Trump has one rocket booster on the left, however: Gov. Jared Polis, who met with Trump in the Springs Thursday. The Democrat then sent out a statement minutes before the speech, relaying that Trump said he wouldn't make a decision on Space Force until the end of year, killing the anticipation for the showman president.
This has to be excruciating for Polis, who deeply loves space and science. Starship Commander Polis, reporting for duty. If former Gov. John Hickenlooper had access to a Death Star, I won’t lie; I would have been concerned. Polis seems born for it.
Like any moonshot, however, Trump faces a steep ascent.
The Morning Consult poll this month has Trump’s approval rating at minus-10 in Colorado. He lost Colorado by 5 points in 2016, and his approval rating in the state has only slipped in Colorado since he took office, the poll suggests.
If he wins a second term but gets crushed in Colorado, one wonders if we would still get the Space Command, since Florida is his home, and it's a state warming up to him, and Thursday night Trump talked about how he loves Texas and Texans love him. If polls bear out, Trump might trade us for Greenland.
His arrival here came in the same week he sent former Gov. Rod Blagojevich home from a federal prison in Jefferson County after eight years of a 14-year hitch for trying to sell Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.
Back in Chicago, Blago called Trump a "problem solver" and declared himself a "Trump-ocrat."
Could Space Force land such loyalties among enough moderate voters to tip Colorado to the right? I’m dubious.
As the president often says, “We’ll see what happens.”