DENVER - President Obama on Wednesday warned women in swing-state Colorado that Republicans would seek to strip away health care benefits for them and cut funding for contraceptive services.
In a passionate pitch for his health care overhaul, Obama sought to draw a stark contrast with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, saying his rival intended to take his health care law and "kill it dead" on the first day of his presidency and "get rid" of Planned Parenthood.
"They want to take us back to the policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century," Obama said, arguing that the decisions affecting a woman's health are "not up to politicians, they're not up to insurance companies, they're up to you."
The rally -- it was the first of four events Obama planned for a two-day trip through the state -- was geared to women, who were heavily represented in the 4,000-person crowd. Both Obama and Romney see women as a critical part of their efforts to win Colorado, where the race is tight three months from Election Day.
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Obama and Romney tied among voters in Colorado households earning between $30,000 and $50,000 per year -- an important target. Obama leads among voters with lower incomes while Romney is favored by those making more.
The president highlighted his decision to nominate Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court and said the next president "could tip the balance in a way that turns back the clock for women in the next decade to come."
The president was introduced by Sandra Fluke, whose congressional testimony became a flashpoint for arguments over contraception, abortion and women's health. Fluke gained notoriety after conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a slut because she supports the Obama health care law's requirement that insurance companies cover contraception.
Fluke said that Obama "defended my right to speak without being attacked, and he condemned those hateful words." She mocked Romney for saying at the time that Limbaugh's words "aren't the words I would have chosen." She said, "If Mr. Romney can't stand up to extreme voices in his own party, then he will never stand up for us."
From Denver, Obama headed to Grand Junction, Colo., an area that leans Republican.