Romney Faces Challenges In Nevada

Republican nominee Mitt Romney campaigned in Nevada on Wednesday.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to the presidential race and here is one way you can tell we're nearing the end of an extremely close competition. Look at the miles the candidate will travel today, more than 3,000 each. Both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will be in Iowa, Nevada and Colorado. The president then takes an overnight flight to Florida and Gov. Romney will go to sleep in yet another battleground state, Ohio.

We're going to hear from both campaigns. First, I'm joined by NPR's Ari Shapiro, who's in Reno with Mitt Romney. And first, Ari, any comment from Mitt Romney himself today about the statements from the Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana?

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: None at all, nor did any campaign aides come to the back of the plane for many press conferences they sometimes do. If they had, we certainly would have asked about it. As it was, Romney's message on the stump here in Reno was very specifically about families. He talked about how his election would make a difference to each member of a family.

For seniors, he talked about Medicare. For college students, he talked about debt. This was his message for 40 and 50-years-olds who he said might have a new house or be saving for retirement.

MITT ROMNEY: And so you're thinking about these as being the most productive years and yet you're finding that that's not the case, the value of your home is not going up. You're not able to put anything away. You're barely able to make ends meet.

SHAPIRO: Romney also put a heavy emphasis on early voting, just as President Obama's been doing. One introductory speaker I thought made a pretty compelling case. He said, listen, if you go vote early, the campaigns will stop calling your house and harassing you, telling you to go vote.

BLOCK: Ari, it's the second time in two days that Mitt Romney has been in Nevada. It's a state that Barack Obama won by a wide margin in 2008, but obviously Mitt Romney thinks he has a chance there if he's spending all this time there.

SHAPIRO: That's right. Yesterday, he and his running mate Paul Ryan kicked off their final two week sprint with a rally outside Las Vegas. Today, of course, their back in Reno. The headline in the local paper, the Las Vegas Review Journal, was "Romney and Ryan Blow Through Nevada, But Is It Too Late?" Republicans believe that the economic mess here makes it a pretty good place for Romney's argument that the last four years have been a failure.

Housing, unemployment, bankruptcies, all much higher in Nevada than many other places in the country. But Romney faces two big challenges here. One is the housing market. Democrats are hammering Romney's statement that the solution is to let the market hit bottom and also, Nevada has a large Latino population, which could make it difficult for Romney to win here.

This week, in fact, President Obama told the Des Moines Register in Iowa that if Mitt Romney loses, it will be because he alienated Hispanic voters with his position on immigration. You know, Nevada has only six electoral votes, but the fact that it's being fought over so intensely shows what a close race this is, That even a state as small as Nevada could make the difference.

BLOCK: And onward after Reno to where exactly, Ari?

SHAPIRO: Well, the pace doesn't slow down, but the geographic scope will narrow a bit so we end late tonight in Cincinnati and then Romney shifts from plane travel to bus travel for a packed day of rallies all over Ohio on Thursday. Friday it's Iowa, then back to Ohio. Saturday and Sunday are focused on Virginia and Florida. This intense map-hopping schedule is a reminder that while Romney has brought this race incredibly close, there is no one swing state where he has a comfortable enough lead to count it safely in his column.

And more or less, the same could be true of President Obama as well.

BLOCK: Okay. NPR's Ari Shapiro on the road with Mitt Romney in Reno. Ari, thanks so much.

SHAPIRO: You're welcome.

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