LAS VEGAS. — A confident Mitt Romney promised a group of hundreds waiting to help open his Las Vegas campaign headquarters this afternoon that things will be better for Nevada residents once he’s in the White House.
“I know you’re not here because things are great here in Nevada, but things are going to be great in Nevada after I’m president,” said Romney, to cheers from the crowd.
But it was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who abandoned his own presidential bid and endorsed Romney, who really revved up the Las Vegas crowd.
“Are you tired of a president who has had his hands on the economic wind pipes of the small businesses and entrepreneurs and job providers in this country and is squeezing it to the point that they are saying, ‘Please Mr. President, don’t squeeze it anymore, leave us alone,’” said Pawlenty, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
“Are you ready for Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States of America?” said Pawlenty, as the audience broke into chants of “We want Mitt! We want Mitt!”
“That’s right,” said Pawlenty. “We need Mitt.”
Pawlenty was introduced by Romney as a “guy who had the chutzpah” to run against him.
“He was frankly the guy who I thought would be my toughest competition,” said Romney.
Romney was in Nevada on the eve of another Republican debate scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas. He appeared energetic as he prodded the audience into expressing their feelings about President Obama.
“My guess is that it probably didn’t help when [Obama] talked down Las Vegas as a convention city, did it?” asked Romney, as the crowd cheered, “No! No!”
“How about the idea of cap and trade to raise the cost of energy?” Romney asked, the audience chanting again. “Did you like that idea?”
“There is a lot of ’no’ coming from the audience and frankly I’m glad to hear that because when it comes to President Obama he’s a nice guy, but he just doesn’t know what it takes to get the economy working,” said Romney.
“I believe what it’s going to take to get America working again is someone who is not a lifelong politician, but someone who knows how the economy works,” said Romney, making a veiled reference he’s used countless times before regarding Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Romney did not mention Perry or businessman Herman Cain, who has seen a surge in support, but Nevada’s Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki promised the audience that there would be refreshments served, but “not Godfather Pizza.”
Cain is the former CEO of Godfather Pizza.
“Not that it’s a bad pizza,” said Krolicki, “But we are sensitive here.”
Romney later left for a private fundraiser at a nearby Las Vegas country club.