In her first Southern Nevada campaign stop, Ann Romney on Monday told a rally that President Barack Obama has failed Nevada and the nation and it's time to fire him and put her husband in the White House so Mitt Romney can lead an economic turnaround.
"This country is ready for a turnaround. This country is ready for Mitt Romney," Romney said to cheers from a crowd of about 1,000 inside the Henderson Convention Center.
Romney, who shared stories of her husband helping friends through health and financial troubles, said the GOP presidential challenger has the heart and the brains to succeed.
"He is prepared," she said, speaking to a friendly audience waving red, white and blue pom-poms. "He is compassionate, and he is competent. And that's what you need to know before you go and vote."
Romney noted that Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 12.1 percent. One in 400 households in the Silver State is facing foreclosure, she added.
"That is not a recovery," she said, adding that Obama hadn't brought jobs to Nevada.
"There are people in this state who are really suffering,'' she said. "If it's that kind of a record, I think it's time to fire the coach."
Nevada is a battleground state where Obama is edging out Romney in most polls, although the race is so close that the state is considered up for grabs in the Nov. 6 election. Romney expressed confidence her husband would win the state and the White House.
"By the way, we're going to win this," she said to cheers. "And Nevada is going to help us win it."
Romney was campaigning in Las Vegas where Obama is preparing for Wednesday night's debate with her husband in Denver. The Henderson Convention Center and Westin Lake Las Vegas, where the president is staying, are about eight miles apart, an 18-minute drive by car.
Jen Psaki, the traveling Obama campaign press secretary, had only good things to say about Ann Romney when asked about her campaign appearance on Monday.
"Mitt Romney is fortunate to be surrounded by a wonderful family," Psaki said in an interview at an Obama campaign office in Henderson after the rally. "She is somebody who certainly has broad appeal to women of this country."
On policy, however, Psaki said Obama has a better record on women's issues, including supporting equal pay and better health insurance coverage for birth control.
On the economy, Psaki said even Obama has said the recovery hasn't happened fast enough, especially in Nevada. But she said his administration has created 5 million jobs in the past 30 months. And he is working hard to help homeowners refinance mortgage loans, help students get loans and grants and help the suffering middle class by lowering taxes.
"We know it's going to be close here," she said of the election in Nevada, which Obama has visited eight times this year alone. "That's why he's here for three days."
Obama arrived on Sunday and is scheduled to leave Las Vegas on Wednesday morning.
The Romneys and Obamas, their families and surrogate campaigners are competing heavily for Nevada, one of a dozen states that could decide the White House race.
Ann Romney campaigned last week in Reno. First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled this Wednesday to speak at the University of Nevada, Reno, before joining her husband at the debate.
Craig Romney, one of the GOP challenger's five sons, was in Las Vegas and Reno last week using his Spanish-speaking skills to woo the Hispanic vote in Nevada.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is scheduled to campaign in Henderson today for Romney, speaking in the afternoon at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.
President Obama rallied 11,200 supporters Sunday night outside Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas before settling down for a three-day stay in Henderson to practice for the upcoming debate.
Before the rally, Ann Romney read to 25 kindergarten students in Sewell Elementary School's classroom No. 16. The children sat on the floor, in front of Romney, who sat in a chair to read aloud with the help of her reading glasses.
She read Dr. Seuss' "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and took a few questions from students, who complimented her on her jewelry.
"I like your earrings and your necklace," one girl said.
Romney thanked her and another girl who said the same thing.
"Girls notice these things," said Romney, who wore a multicolored dress.
"I like the way you look," another child shouted then.
Romney showed the children pictures as she read the story, which has tongue-twisting rhymes.
"This is hard to read sometimes - such silly words," she told the children after stumbling a bit on a nook, hook, book, cook line.
After she finished reading, Romney asked how many students could themselves read. A few of the mostly 5-year-olds raised their hands.
"Once you learn how to read, you're going to have so much fun," she told them, saying it would be hard at first. "All of a sudden, it gets easier and easier and easier to read."
One girl said, "I think it's easy."
Romney replied: "You think it's easy? You're lucky."
Matt Romney, wife Laurie and their four children accompanied Romney, who introduced them to the class. The children are Nate, 4, Mia, 8, and 11-year old twins, Chloe and Nick.
Matt Romney and his four siblings are stumping for their father. He introduced his mother at the Henderson rally, calling her his hero.
Monday evening, Ann Romney was to speak at a private fundraiser at the home of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who have donated at least $10 million to the political action committee Restore Our Future, which supports Romney's presidential bid.
The Adelsons also have given at least $10 million to Crossroads GPS, which has hit Obama in TV ads. Overall, the Adelsons have given more than $50 million to GOP campaigns.
Guests for the 5 p.m. reception at the Adelsons' Summerlin home were asked to donate $10,000 per couple to co-chair the event, $5,000 per couple for a VIP photo opportunity or $1,000 to attend the general reception.
Ann Romney has been employed on the campaign trail to show the softer, family side of Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private-equity businessman.
"Her devotion to raising five boys, commitment to her husband, battle and victory over breast cancer and an ongoing struggle with MS set her apart as a beacon of hope and an example of faith," the fundraising invitation said, referring to multiple sclerosis.
Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.