In a jungle of snowboards, boots, fur hats and backpacks Friday, Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner shook hands with vendors and military guests at the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver.
A tense immigration negotiation in Washington also had their interest, including a deal from President Trump Thursday night: A path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children in exchange for cutting legal family-based migration and a $25 billion trust fund to build a border wall.
Bennet, a Democrat, and Gardner, a Republican, have been major players on the issues, and neither saw the president's proposal as a final offer. They co-sponsored a new Dream Act last fall to try to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects 1.8 million young immigrants, including more than 17,000 in Colorado.
Without a deal, the so-called Dreamers who signed up face deportation.
Gardner and Bennet are part of the Gang of Six trying to work out a bipartisan deal. The stakes are high and the differences are wide.
"They come with this last-minute proposal that I don't think is going anywhere," Bennet said of the president's offer. "I've been pleased to work with Cory Gardner as the Gang of Six negotiating a bipartisan solution to this thing."
Democrats have tried to tie DACA protections to the federal budget, and President Trump is facing pressure from his base of supporters, after he made a tough immigration policy and a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico key to his election.
During the campaign Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall, and the president had since said they would eventually pay for it indirectly.
Border security isn't the biggest stumbling block for him, Bennet said, but he doesn't think it's a good idea.
"It's very, very hard to spend $25 billion at once well," he said. "I am prepared to do substantial border security."
Bennet said there are more efficient ways to do border security, however, such as a combination of fencing with technology, patrol officers and border-control cooperation with Mexico.
In 2013 Bennet helped write the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill that had $40 billion for border security. The bill famously passed the Senate with 68 votes then died on the calendar in the Republican-led House.
"I don't have an allergy at all to border security," he said. "In fact, I think we should secure our borders. I think we should do it smartly. I think we should it efficiently, and I'm certainly willing to do it in the context of figuring out how to give the Dreamers protection a pathway to citizenship, which was stripped from them by this president in September."
Gardner said a lot of negotiations still have to take place on immigration to get bipartisan support (including 60 votes in the Senate), and to send President Trump something he will sign.
"I think there are a lot of details that have to be worked out on this," he said. "Last night we heard the president say he supports the work we've been doing for Dreamers. Last night he came very close to that, but there are still a lot of details - we still have to figure out exactly what is the proposal we put forth.
"We'll know more Monday when there's more coming forth. But the bottom line is this: The goal isn't just to pass the Senate. The goal is to make sure it can pass the Senate and the House and be signed by the president. That's what we have to do to solve this. We don't solve the DACA challenge, we don't do anything for the Dreamers if it just passes the Senate and doesn't go anywhere."
Gardner said the president was willing to embrace some of the ideas the negotiators have offered, "and we've got more work to make sure the rest of it happens."
Gardner and Bennet both had planned to attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Denver Friday, and then decided to go together. The largest U.S. outdoor recreation trade show moved to Colorado from Salt Lake City this year, after retailers threatened a mutiny over Utah politicians' pro-energy development stance on public lands.
"I'm proud to be part of the reason it's here," Gardner said. "But the reason it's here is the great Colorado presence and the Colorado ethic towards the outdoors and conservation and the exciting business environment you see all around us."
Bennet said there are people all across Colorado starting businesses in their garage that they hope someday will be on exhibit for vendors around the world at the Denver trade show.
"They're good jobs, they pay well and it's an important part of our economy in Colorado's economy," Bennet said of outdoor recreation. "To have this show here is a reflection of Colorado's work for public lands, work for conservation, and it's a great testament to where we're headed as a state."