Out West, GOP Candidates Mine For Caucus Votes | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Out West, GOP Candidates Mine For Caucus Votes

Play associated audio

Saturday is caucus day in Nevada, the first state in the West to vote as Republicans go about choosing their presidential candidate.

Mitt Romney is counting on another win here to keep him on the path to the nomination. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have also been campaigning across the state, while Rick Santorum is in the Midwest looking ahead to later contests next week.

Believe it or not, Nevada leads the country in unemployment, home foreclosures and bankruptcy.

But at Romney's rally in Elko on Friday, the stories were vastly different. In Elko, there are not enough houses for everyone who wants to buy.

"My wife sells real estate, and they're having a hard time finding houses for people," says Jim Moore, who works for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Elko is a gold-mining boomtown. Michael Cornell works underground in the mines.

"We've been relatively untouched. I make six figures a year, and many of us here do," he says. "We've had a lot of people come from other parts of the country to live here because of the jobs situation."

That's really different from a lot of Nevada.

"I hear that there's some sort of unemployment rate problem here in Nevada, and we don't see any of it here," Cornell says.

Romney Shifts Focus To Obama

Romney's visit Friday coincides with the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

"The heart of the cowboy, the love of freedom and the outdoors and nature being celebrated this week with cowboy poetry," he said. "Congratulations to you that have come to listen to some wise words from some very humorous and bright people."

A week ago in Florida, Romney was hammering Gingrich incessantly. But ever since his decisive win in that state, he has kept his sights trained solely on President Obama.

"We have a president who is convinced that government is the answer to every challenge we have. Government has an important role, but it's not the answer," he said.

Romney has been very popular in Nevada, dating back to when he won the state caucuses four years ago.

Still, he encounters the same challenges here that he does across the country. Ashley Leahy came to this rally to see what Romney had to say, but she says she just doesn't like him very much.

"I think that he can come across as very abrupt and pompous and very defensive," she says.

Paul Bets On Loyalty

Leahy's planning to vote for Paul, a man who expects to climb in the standings Saturday in a state where loyal support makes a difference.

He was out in Las Vegas on Friday, thanking some of those supporters at a "Gun Owners for Paul" event. Later, he addressed a group of veterans.

"National defense is the responsibility of the federal government, and, unfortunately, I think we spend too much money overseas doing the wrong thing," he said, "which actually undermines our national defense."

Paul took second place in the Nevada caucuses last time.

Gingrich Vs. 'Obama-Lite'

Then there's Gingrich, whose goal here is to knock Romney off the pedestal of inevitability.

"It isn't good enough for the Republican Party to nominate Obama-lite," he said Friday.

Gingrich rallied voters at a country-western restaurant in Las Vegas, returning to Romney's statement earlier this week that he doesn't care about the "very poor."

Romney has said he misspoke and meant to say that his focus is on helping the middle class. Gingrich called the gaffe evidence that Romney's not ready for prime time.

"The elite media did exactly what Obama will do this fall and kept replaying 'I don't really care about the poor,' which by the way is not a very clever thing for somebody who's very wealthy to say," Gingrich said. "Talk about every possible example of what we don't want in a general election candidate."

Out Of Nevada, In The Race

The fourth candidate in the race, Santorum, is not in Nevada. He spent Friday in Missouri battling a cold during a joint appearance with the evangelical leader James Dobson. Dobson asked if Santorum was "in for the long haul."

"Look, a lot of people have come up to me and said ... 'Please stay in the race.' I'm not getting out of the race," Santorum said.

Having opted out of the Nevada contest early, however, Santorum is not likely to be a factor in the results that come in late Saturday.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Why Afghanistan's 'Underground Girls' Skirt Tradition To Live As Boys

In a new book, journalist Jenny Nordberg writes about the bacha posh, young girls who dress up like boys to enjoy the freedoms of being an Afghan male for as long as they can.
NPR

Keeping Heirloom Apples Alive Is 'Like A Chain Letter' Over Many Centuries

Scott Farm in Vermont grows 100 apple varieties, some of them dating back to the 1700s. These apples may not look as pretty as the Red Delicious, but what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.
WAMU 88.5

New Anthony Brown Video Accuses Opponent Of 'Hiding' And 'Lying"

Democrat Anthony Brown unveiled a new web video today alleging that Republican Larry Hogan is "hiding" his positions on contentious issues like abortion and gun control.
NPR

Tech Week: Smartphone Privacy, Cyberstalking, Alibaba's Big Debut

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba makes the biggest debut on the NYSE ever. The details, and the other tech stories that piqued our interest, are in this week's roundup.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.