Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Stumping in Henderson for the former rival he handily beat in Nevada’s caucus, Mitt Romney eagerly played attack dog Wednesday for Republican nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain.
Romney, a serious contender to be McCain’s running mate, charmed the partisan crowd by blasting Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama with a speech he has been giving across the country that mostly harps on Obama’s inexperience.
While McCain has been around for “the ups and downs of the last 25 years,” Obama doesn’t have that kind of experience to guide him, Romney told about 1,000 people at the Henderson Convention Center.
Romney’s appearance in Nevada was intended to harness his own strong support here for McCain, who all but ignored the state during the primaries.
And from the crowd’s reaction, it is support McCain could use among the Republican base.
In opening remarks before Romney took the stage, a Nevada legislator made a strategic error — or at least overestimated the unity in the room.
In trying to rev up the crowd, state Assemblyman Lynn Stewart asked whether there were any Republicans in the auditorium, and received a strong response. But when he asked if there were any McCain Republicans out there, boos filtered back through the cheers. He quickly followed by asking about Romney Republicans, and then brought the crowd to its feet by asking whether there were any McCain-Romney Republicans out there.
In his speech, Romney hit with the typical party-line jabs at Democrats: higher taxes, government interference and cowardly foreign policy.
He blasted Obama on his health care plan, saying it would increase the role of government — and ended up, maybe unwittingly, criticizing the Bush administration.
“I don’t want the guys who ran the Katrina cleanup running my health care, I can tell you that,” Romney said.
As for the energy crisis, he said McCain is the candidate who will do more than talk about it, including drilling offshore and building nuclear power plants.
Although both presidential candidates aim to bring troops home by the end of the first term, only “McCain will bring them home in victory,” he said.
Romney said the Democrats are avoiding talking about terrorism, saying it’s the greatest threat facing the nation and “they don’t even want to mention it.”
Trotting out a familiar line from this week, Romney questioned the foreign policy experience Sen. Joe Biden brings to Obama’s ticket. He said Biden might have been involved with foreign policy for 30 years but he’s also “been wrong in foreign policy most of the time for 30 years.”
Earlier in the day Romney stopped by McCain’s Western regional headquarters in Henderson to rally volunteers working the phones.