Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, speaks at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Confident that victory is at hand, more than a thousand Mitt Romney supporters crowded a Colorado Springs business Saturday to cheer the GOP front-runner on his first campaign stop of 2012 in Colorado.
Romney gave a short speech at a metal fabrication business before heading back to Nevada, where he appeared headed toward victory in that state's caucuses. Romney didn't mention Nevada or his three Republican rivals, instead delivering a stump speech focused on President Barack Obama and the economy.
"We simply can't allow a president to borrow and borrow and spend indiscriminately," Romney said to cheers from an overflow crowd. Some Republicans in the crowd waited two hours for a chance to squeeze inside.
Romney hadn't appeared in Colorado since a fundraising trip last September. But the former Massachusetts governor has reason not to spend too much campaign time here ahead of Tuesday's Colorado GOP caucuses. Romney carried the 2008 caucuses here with some 60 percent of the vote and is believed the clear favorite here next week.
Supporters in the crowd conceded that Romney's campaign may not be as organized as it was in early 2008. But they said Romney's
"It all looks very good," predicted Brian Ferriter, a 50-year-old owner of an auto repair business. Wearing a "Colorado For Romney" T-shirt, Ferriter predicted an even wider victory margin for Romney on Tuesday. Ferriter said his main worry is that the GOP nominating contest will drag on past Super Tuesday.
"It's just hurting Republicans at this point," Ferriter said.
Another Republican in the crowd, 42-year-old web designer Paul Lugauer of Colorado Springs, was also feeling confident Romney would have no trouble on Tuesday.
"Romney's probably got it," Lugauer said. "I want to vote for the guy who has the best chance to win."
A few elected Republicans joined Romney Saturday to drive home the point. South Dakota Sen. John Thune introduced Romney, and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was introduced as a Romney supporter.
Romney's Colorado campaign also announced additional Colorado endorsements Saturday. Among the supporters was former U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.
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Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum wasn't giving up on a strong showing in Colorado Tuesday. Santorum has several Colorado stops planned Saturday, including one with U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner in Greeley.
Speaking to a crowd in a Montrose hotel, Santorum portrayed himself as an alternative to Romney.
"America is not looking for well-oiled weather vanes. They are looking for leaders," Santorum said.
Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this story from Montrose, Colo.
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