RENO - Ann Romney told a cheering crowd of 500 supporters Thursday that her husband, Mitt, "does not fail" and will win the presidency in November.
In a 12-minute speech, she said frequently that he cares about all Americans and especially worries about the unemployed.
"This man cares, he has a good heart, he cares," said Ann Romney, speaking on an outdoor stage as cattle grazed in a nearby field. "That is the Mitt Romney I know. We are running because we care."
The Republican presidential candidate's wife appeared for the first time in Reno as polls show her husband is slipping in most of the battleground states, one of which is Nevada.
Romney's drop comes after the release of a Mother Jones videotape secretly recorded at a Republican fundraiser.
On that tape, Romney said 47 percent of Americans "are dependent upon government, believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to a house, to you-name-it."
He also said those people do not pay taxes and will vote for President Barack Obama, regardless of what he does.
Political commentators have been saying Ann Romney has gone on the campaign road to show that her husband is a compassionate man who wants to help all people. They also say she wants to show Romney is a man who understands all people despite his wealth, estimated at $250 million.
Clearly that was her motive Thursday.
She told a story, originally mentioned at the Republican National Convention, of how her husband spent a lot of time visiting a 14-year-old cancer victim, and drew up a will so the boy could give his skateboard to a friend.
Nevada is a state they must win, she said, noting the state needs a change because of its high unemployment rate. That rate is the highest in the nation at 12.1 percent.
"Nevada cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama," Romney said to cheers. Then she paused and added, "Or Harry Reid," a reference to U.S. Senate Majority Harry Reid of Nevada that drew the greatest applause of her short speech.
Romney noted her father immigrated to the United States from Wales in 1929 "without a nickel" in his pocket, and his mining father worked from age 6 and "probably was illiterate."
After Thursday's address, Reno resident Marsha Fruge said she will vote for Romney because of the sour economy under Obama.
"This country is facing a cataclysmic financial crisis around the corner," Fruge said. "If we have four more years of him (Obama), we will cease to exist."
Fruge attended the rally with her sisters, Rhonda Martin and Lisa Doherty.
Martin, a Libertarian, said she probably will vote for a Republican presidential candidate for the first time.
She said Democrats were looking "for a reason, looking to find something on (Romney)" and found it in his 47 percent statement.
"It has hurt him," said Martin, saying that Romneyshould have used different words and that he wasn't including Social Security recipients as people who don't pay taxes, although it did not come off that way.
"But he spoke for a lot of us when he said it and spoke how a lot of us would say it," she added.
Martin said it took guts for Romney not to back off from his 47 percent comments.
At request of the Review-Journal, the state Department of Health and Human Services released statistics last week that show less than 25 percent of Nevadans are receiving welfare, Medicaid or food stamps.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.