LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Mitt Romney, returning to the battleground state of Nevada for the first time since becoming the presumptive nominee, reminded a crowd here today of disparaging remarks made about Las Vegas by the president and promised that if he's elected, he won't shy away from traveling to Sin City.
"It was only three and a half, four years ago that Barack Obama was campaigning here and I know he raised a lot of people's hopes," said Romney, standing on the floor of a furniture company. "He was talking about making things better and he was going to bring the country together and I know he had a lot of you folks thinking things were going to get real good. And he's been a big disappointment hasn't he?"
"As a matter of fact he came into the White House and told people not to bother to go out to Las Vegas for conventions or meetings," said Romney.
Romney was referring to a series of remarks made by President Obama over the past few years that have been less-than-flattering about Las Vegas. The first, in 2009, came when Obama was speaking about federal spending and said, "You can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime."
Then, in 2010, Obama during a town hall meeting warned about frivolous spending in Las Vegas, remarking, "You don't blow a bunch of cash in Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
"That sure as heck didn't help, did it?" said Romney today, to cheers from the crowd. "I'll tell you if I become the next president of the United States, I'm going to remind people I've come to Las Vegas, I love it here. Come out to Las Vegas and spend some time."
Romney, who won the state's primary in February, has not been back in the state since and is here primarily to rake in cash - particularly at an evening fundraiser featuring Donald Trump. The event is expected to raise more than $2 million. Romney also met privately with casino giant Sheldon Adelson this afternoon at The Venetian Hotel. Adelson had previously backed Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign.
"It's entirely possible that late in the evening of Nov. 6, the nation is going to be wondering what's going to happen in Nevada," said Romney, looking ahead to the fall election, as a man in the crowd screamed out, "You can do it!"
"Yeah, exactly, that's a good strong voice," Romney responded. "And I'm counting on you guys to go out and make sure that you elect a president who tells people to come to Las Vegas, not to stay away from Las Vegas. Who gets us on the track to have a strong and vibrant economy again."