Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 | 11:49 a.m.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s most popular politician who just returned from a trade mission to Asia, distanced himself from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s comment about the “47 percent” on Thursday.
“I don’t agree with it,” Sandoval said. “Nevada has been the hardest-hit state in the country. There are a lot of folks that I’m working extremely hard to get them employment. And until they’re employed, there are many services that they’re going to be needing.”
At a private fundraiser in May, Romney told donors that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes, believe they are victims, and feel entitled to government assistance. He told donors that he didn’t expect to win their votes and was focused on the small sliver of undecided voters.
Nevada is a battleground state in the presidential election, with both campaigns spending significant money on television ads and and both Romney and President Barack Obama making multiple campaign visits here.
Most polls have Obama leading by a small margin. And while it’s unclear how effective any one surrogate for the candidates could be in the state, Sandoval’s popularity outstrips Romney’s in Nevada.
Sandoval’s approval rating is 62 percent, according to a poll released this week by the Retailer’s Association of Nevada. Only 24 percent disapproved of his job performance.
Sandoval, asked if he’s enthusiastic about Romney, said, “Of course.”
The governor said he has no events scheduled with Romney in Nevada, but “I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me” by the Romney campaign.
Sometimes, though, he has prior commitments, he said.
During Romney’s most recent campaign visit in Reno, on Sept. 11, Sandoval attended a memorial in Fallon.
“Given that Fallon is my original hometown, I awfully like the opportunity to go out there,” the governor said before he left for his 10-day trade mission, which awkwardly came as Romney rolled out television ads accusing Obama of being soft on China’s unfair trade practices.
Sandoval is not the first Nevada Republican to distance himself from Romney’s remarks about the 47 percent.
Republican Sen. Dean Heller last week said: “I don’t agree with the comments that he made. I just don’t have that view of the world,” Heller said.
Sandoval’s 10-day trade mission with economic development officials and business leaders from Nevada included stops in China and Korea. During that trip, officials signed agreements with foreign officials to expand trade ties and announced two business agreements with Nevada companies to do work in China.