Published Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 | 3:02 p.m.
Updated Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 | 3:26 p.m.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney fired up a crowd of boisterous supporters Friday at a rally at UNLV’s COX Pavilion.
The former Massachusetts governor spoke to the crowd of approximately 3,000 for 20 minutes, mostly discussing the ailing economy and what he would do to help homeowners and the unemployed.
First Romney jabbed at President Barack Obama for comments made in an interview with Jorge Ramos of Univision this week.
“President Obama raised the white flag of surrender again yesterday,” Romney said. “He said you can’t change Washington from the inside, you have to do it from the outside. We are going to give him that chance. He’s going outside Washington.”
In an interview with Univision, Obama said one of the lessons of his first term is that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.” He went on to say that voters are more influential on lawmakers than other politicians, and the key to progress is leveraging the support of the public.
Romney offered a five-point plan for how he would improve the economy.
First, he said, he would open up more federal property for gas and oil production and limit Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Next, he said, he would pursue more trade agreements, especially with Latin America and confront “cheats” like China that are “stealing our jobs.”
Third, he said, he wants to reform job-training programs by giving federal funds for such programs directly to states so they can set up programs they think will meet local demands.
Romney then discussed ways to spur economic growth, arguing that capping federal spending and lowering the deficit will spur confidence among entrepreneurs in the U.S. economy.
Finally, Romney said, he would “lower taxes on all of the small businesses” and make credit easier to access for home buyers.
Romney said he wants to “take this big cloud off of small business” and repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was modeled after the health care act Romney helped enact in Massachusetts.
Prior to Romney’s speech, a trio of Obama supporters held a conference call to argue that Romney would further damage Nevada’s economy.
“Mitt Romney made that choice crystal clear when he wrote off half the country saying they see themselves as victims,” Obama for America National Press Secretary Ben LaBolt said. “You can’t be president of all Americans when you write off half of them.”
Sen. Harry Reid said Romney is out of touch with average Americans.
“He’s never seen a dad out of work; I have,” Reid said.
“I have trouble understanding audacity of Mitt Romney. (He’s) coming to my state as someone who is so out of touch with my state and talking as if we don’t know what took place in years past,” the Senate Majority Leader said. “He’s certainly out of touch with the middle class. It’s rich to hear Mitt Romney complain about people not paying income taxes.”
Erica Smit, 23, and Ryan Becklean, 23, two Boyd Law School students and registered Republicans, said part of the reason they attended the event was to show people that support from young voters is not exclusive to Obama.
Smit said he believes Romney’s business experience would benefit the country’s economy, and he is not concerned about the GOP candidate’s tax returns. Romney has been criticized for not releasing more of his tax records.
“I don’t care if he doesn’t pay a high effective tax rate,” Smit said. “I think that shows his business savvy. I think most people want to pay the lowest tax rate possible.”
About 20 protesters stood in the shade of a tree outside COX Pavilion and attempted to engage those waiting in line.
Erin Neff, the executive director of progressive non-profit advocacy group Progress Now Nevada, said many of those standing in line to see Romney are part of the “47 percent” that the Massachusetts governor was seen deriding as not accepting “personal responsibility” in a video released this week.
Neff said she saves $120 a year now that birth control is covered in her health insurance, and she saves $300 per month on her mortgage, thanks to a refinancing program. Both programs were initiated by the Obama administration.
“I vote with my pocketbook,” said Neff, who added that she has two children and her husband is unemployed. “Obama is the best candidate the middle class and for my pocketbook.”
Romney attended a private fundraiser at Red Rock Resort prior to the rally.
Friday’s fundraiser and campaign rally marked Romney’s sixth visit to Nevada since he became the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee in April. Romney has come to Nevada 16 times in the past two years.