Mitt Romney coasted to an easy victory in Saturday's Nevada caucuses. The AP reports Romney won 47.6 percent of the vote, Newt Gingrich placed a distant second with 22.7 percent, Ron Paul took third with 18.6 percent, and Rick Santorum landed far behind in fourth with 11.1 percent. The Washington Post reports voter turnout was "far below" that of the Florida, South Carolina and even New Hampshire primaries and the Iowa caucuses. A victory in Nevada offers scant delegates towards winning the Republican nomination, but nevertheless provides added momentum to Romney's surging campaign.
Romney rang in his victory, coming just days after his Florida triumph, at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday night. First "kissing his wife...and hugging his sons," The New York Times notes, Romney then launched into a ten-and-a-half minute speech that turned his sights directly on Barack Obama and their increasingly likely face-off this fall. How to address the inconvenient matter of Friday's sunny unemployment numbers? By claiming credit for them on behalf of the private sector. From Politico:
“America needs a president who can fix the economy because he understands the economy,” Romney said before his most enthusiastic election-night crowd to date at the Red Rock resort here. “And I do, and I will. This is a president who began his presidency by apologizing for America. He should now be apologizing to America.”
“This week he’s trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment,” Romney said. “Not so fast, Mr. President. We welcome any good news on the jobs front. But it is thanks to the innovation of the American people in the private sector and not to you, Mr. President,” he contended.
Next, Romney turns his attentions to Colorado, which will host its caucuses this Tuesday, the same day as Minnesota's caucuses and Missouri's primaries (the last of which doesn't even have Gingrich on the ballot). Romney has already begun his Colorado campaign, having spoken to employees of a metal fabrication plant in Colorado Springs on Saturday morning. A stop in Minneapolis was cancelled at the last minute, Politico reports, after Romney's campaign people decided it would take too much out his Colorado schedule.
Watch Romney's Nevada victory speech here, via CNN: