RENO — From the glitz of Las Vegas to the snowy mountains of Elko and Reno, Mitt Romney touched the corners of Nevada on Friday as he sought his second win of the week in the Republican presidential nominating contest.
The former Massachusetts governor reveled in the endorsement of the Reno Gazette-Journal and a poll in the Review-Journal that showed him heading into Saturday’s voting with a lead.
“As you think about the promises made and compare them with the promises delivered, you realize that Washington is broken. And I’m going to Washington to finally bring change and get the job done,” Romney told about 200 people in snow-covered Elko.
Romney echoed the remarks later in Reno, where he highlighted his seven visits to the state, the most of any GOP contender, and told a boisterous crowd: “I want to come together with you because I’m convinced that together, we can change Washington.”
The message was the same as the one that proved to be a winner for Romney in Tuesday’s Michigan primary. And Romney sounded the same theme earlier in the week in South Carolina, which has its primary on Saturday as well.
While some in the South criticized Romney for leaving the state, he and his staff joked that they were making up for it by appearing on NBC’s “Tonight Show” on Friday night.
“We figured it was the only way we could be in South Carolina and Nevada at the same time,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said.
The poll showed Romney with a comfortable lead in Nevada, garnering 34 percent of the vote to 19 percent for Sen. John McCain of Arizona and 13 percent for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
The survey also found Romney led in all five issue categories and in all but one demographic group. He trailed Huckabee, a one-time Southern Baptist minister, among those who called themselves born-again Christians.
Romney led Huckabee 38 percent to 17 percent among voters who said they were looking for a candidate who shared their values. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
One potent bloc of voters for Romney in the Mountain West states, including Utah, which votes Feb. 5, are fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are concentrations of Mormons in Nevada, Arizona and Orange County, Calif., and they comprise a majority of the population in Utah, where the church is based.
In Elko, home to a sizable Mormon community, Romney contrasted his conservative style of governance with that of Democratic rivals.
Later, in Reno, Romney said he envisioned expanding the universal health care plan he implemented in Massachusetts to the entire nation.