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Nevada voters bet on Mitt Romney to boost economy

Published: Saturday, Feb. 4 2012 11:48 p.m. MST

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney holds a Caucus election night at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 4, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Emmanuel Dunand,Afp/Getty Images

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LAS VEGAS — About half the homes on the street where Jim and Deanna Daniels live are in foreclosure, the reason they have a Mitt Romney-for-president sign in their front yard.

Nevada's troubled economy was a key factor in the state's GOP caucus vote Saturday, Romney's second win in less than a week in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

"In the state of Nevada, we need to have jobs. … We need to get our people back to work. We need to get the foreclosures to stop," Deanna Daniels said. "It's sad to see our neighbors lose their jobs."

Many who lost their tile-roof stucco homes on Swaying Trees Drive were in the construction industry, she said, hard-hit in the economic downturn that left Nevada with one of the nation's highest unemployment rates.

An employee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deanna Daniels said her own job changed from managing new construction projects to maintaining the church's current facilities.

Jim Daniels, who works at the front desk of a hotel and casino, said he supports Romney because of his business experience, including his leadership of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"In my book, it didn't hurt he was LDS," Jim Daniels said.

The couple were among the Mormon voters who helped hand Romney an easy victory over former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

After a big win in Florida's primary last Tuesday, Romney is being seen as the front-runner in the race to face the Democratic candidate, President Barack Obama, in November.

Stacy Slade, also a member of the LDS Church, said he voted for Romney "because of his experience being able to do what our country needs — get rid of all the slop, the excess and make the system work better, cleaner and more efficient."

Slade said after spending 30 years as a general contractor and developer in his hometown, his career "was done, history" thanks to the bad economy. Now, at 55, he's going back to school to train to become a physician's assistant.

Todd Brunson, a volunteer at the Spring Valley High School caucus site, said he voted for Paul. "Everyone else is almost basically the same, and they're not going to do drastic things to fix the problems we have."

Brunson said is concerned Romney's Mormon faith would hurt Republicans' chances of retaking the White House.

"A lot of people hold his religion against him," Brunson said. "I think that's unfortunate, but I think it's true. It will make it difficult for him to get elected."

Carol Calder, a retired defense subcontractor, said she voted for Gingrich. "He's the smartest of the group we have to pick from," she said. "He's a little prickly, and I think that is important when you go up against Obama."

Calder said she believes Romney "could do the job, but I just don't see any passion there. No passion at all. I'm not even sure he believes what he says. It's just kind of like pablum to me. I want somebody with a little fire, and you get that with Gringrich."

Romney showed some of that fire in Florida, where he went on the offensive against Gingrich after a disappointing second-place finish in South Carolina. But in Nevada, Romney focused solely on Obama.

"Mr. President, Nevada has had enough of your kind of help," Romney told a rambunctious crowd gathered in a casino ballroom to celebrate his victory, promising to take Nevadans' vote of confidence "to the White House."

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