Nevada's Republican presidential caucus is Saturday, and much like the GOP caucus of 2008, it's been an afterthought in the national campaign. The caucus hasn't brought the spotlight that state Republicans had hoped for, considering Nevada is one of a handful of battleground states -- and the one with the deepest economic problems.
Back in October, the last time Nevada was the focus of the GOP race, seven candidates took the stage at The Venetian for a debate televised nationally by CNN. Since then, businessman Herman Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have dropped out of the race. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum remains in the field only because of his relentless focus on social issues, which are hardly of critical importance given the country's growing debt and stagnant economy. And Texas Rep. Ron Paul, whose views offer principle and much common sense, has never had the kind of broad support needed to win the nomination.
This race is between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Mr. Romney won New Hampshire, while Mr. Gingrich won South Carolina. Regardless of who takes Tuesday's Florida primary, both men will make a late, hard push for support in Nevada, either to build momentum or stage a badly needed resurgence after a tight loss.
Mr. Gingrich led the Republican revolution of 1994 behind the "Contract with America," a sweeping promise of more limited federal powers, fiscal responsibility and personal liberty. This victory forced President Bill Clinton to sprint to the center and work with Congress, leading to tax cuts, balanced budgets and welfare reform.
But Mr. Gingrich's tenure as speaker was brief. He burned bridges and became a divisive figure for much of the electorate. After resigning from office in 1999 under pressure from his party, Mr. Gingrich became a political consultant.
Mr. Romney, on the other hand, has less political experience and a lifetime in the business world. His greatest strength is his command of economic issues and his understanding of what the private sector needs to create jobs. He has criticized the uncertainty President Obama and Congress have created by not passing budgets and refusing to provide businesses and investors with a predictable, permanent tax code. And he understands the economic ruin that lies ahead if Washington can't conquer its spending addiction. "We can't have a government that keeps spending more than it takes in, otherwise enterprise will not invest in America," he said.
Mr. Romney is pro-growth all the way. He wants the country to develop all its energy resources, not punish the oil, coal and gas sectors. He wants states and citizens to have more freedom to innovate. And perhaps most importantly, Mr. Romney is a Washington outsider, not a capital insider.
Nevada Republicans should attend their caucuses with two questions in mind. Who best represents their party? And who has the best chance to defeat President Obama? We believe Mitt Romney is the answer to both of those questions.