Craig Romney campaigns for dad in Nevada


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Craig Romney isn't watching the Democratic National Convention.

The youngest son of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that with only 60 days left before the Nov. 6 election, he has hit the campaign trail with a mission to get his father into the White House.

On Wednesday, he held a discussion in Las Vegas with Hispanic-owned small businesses. The day before, he campaigned in Colorado, which like Nevada is a battleground state that President Barack Obama won four years ago. The elder Romney is running neck and neck with Obama.

"They have me working so hard, I haven't been able to watch it," Craig Romney said in a telephone interview, referring to the Democratic convention. "I'm guessing I probably wouldn't like it anyway."

The Democrats opened their convention Tuesday. It will end tonight when Obama accepts the party's nomination with Vice President Joe Biden. The incumbents are competing with Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Democratic convention speakers have promoted Obama's agenda to get the country back on a strong economic track after several years of recession. But Democrats also have criticized Romney, accusing him of wanting to protect the rich and big business at a cost to the middle class.

Craig Romney said he thinks the three-day Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., went a long way toward dispelling some negative impressions about his father. He said the family was especially pleased with Ann Romney's heartfelt speech and those from people his father has helped, either in his work for the Mormon church or in his business life as the former head of Bain Capital.

"In large part, he's been defined by his opponents," Craig Romney said. "Now he's had a chance to explain, 'This is who I am,' and 'This is why I'm in the race.' He's in this race because he wants to ensure this nation remains the greatest nation on Earth. He wants to make sure that 23 million Americans who don't have jobs get back to work. We're in danger of losing that (American) dream."

In Nevada the unemployment rate is the highest in the nation at 12 percent and about 15 percent for Hispanics. The Latino vote can be decisive in Nevada, where 26 percent of the population is Hispanic. Nearly three-quarters of Latinos favor Obama over Romney, according to recent polls.

Craig Romney, who is fluent in Spanish because of his Mormon missionary work in Costa Rica, is among Hispanic surrogates the Romney campaign has sent to Nevada to talk to voters and business leaders.

The Hispanic business roundtable also included U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Hector Barreto, the former head of the Small Business Administration under former President George W. Bush.

Craig, 31, said it was his first Nevada campaign stop this year; he visited the state in 2008 when his father first ran for president after serving as governor of Massachusetts.

"I'm kind of an ambassador for the campaign, hearing their concerns," he said of the Latino community. "We want to make sure they can succeed. The Hispanic community has been hit even more than in the rest of the country. The Hispanic unemployment rate in Nevada is 15 percent, and that's unacceptable."

Democrats have attacked Romney for his strict immigration stances, including opposition to the DREAM Act. It would offer a path to U.S. citizenship for young adults who were brought to the United States illegally when they were young. To qualify, they would have to attend college or join the U.S. military.

Mitt Romney has campaigned often in Nevada, one of more than half a dozen battleground states that will decide the White House race in 2012. Craig Romney said Nevadans will see the family often.

"We're paying attention everywhere, but it's going to come down to states like Colorado and Nevada," he said.

Last week the family celebrated in his parent's hotel room in Tampa after Ann Romney's speech on Tuesday night and his father acceptance speech on Thursday night, he said.

Craig Romney, too, addressed the convention. He choked up when he talked about his grandparents emigrating from Mexico back to the United States to live the American dream. The Romney clan had lived in a Mormon community in Mexico after being persecuted in the United States.

"After my mom's speech we all congregated in our parent's hotel room and spent some time together and congratulated my mom for doing a great job," he said, quickly adding, "We congratulated my dad, too, after his speech. After that we had to get go back to work."

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.

 

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