Romney looks to pick up Nevada

RENO, Nev. -- Underlining Nevada's importance this fall, Mitt Romney returned to Washoe County Wednesday, pledging to solve the struggling state's economic problems while criticizing President Obama for running a "slipping and shrinking" campaign.

Nevada's economy collapsed alongside the housing market in 2008, causing home prices to stagnate and putting tens of thousands out of work.

And while the state has recovered some over the past two years - unemployment has fallen from 14 to 11.8 percent - the GOP nominee promised a Romney presidency would not be "more of the same" as what he said the president is offering.

"If he's re-elected I'm convinced you're going to see the values of your homes continue to bump along in the basement," Romney told a smaller than usual crowd of 2,500 at a Reno events center.

"Under President Obama you really don't have a jobs plan," Romney continued. "We've had four debates and he hasn't been able to describe what his plan is to get this economy going. He hasn't been able to defend it to the American people."

"We can't afford four more years like the last four years," he concluded.

Nevada's six electoral votes would be a welcome pick-up for Romney - the president beat Sen. John McCain by 12 points here in 2008. And the state becomes critical for Romney to reach the 270-vote threshold if he loses the pivotal state of Ohio.

Washoe County - Nevada's second most populous county which Obama won by 12 percent in 2008 - could be kinder to Romney this campaign cycle. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Reno and the surrounding area has an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, compared to just 6.5 percent in January of 2008. And while the latest housing numbers show signs of improvement, Nevada has the fifth highest foreclosure rate in the country.

But despite the continued attention, the state remains a tough win, with polls showing the president up by a few percentage points.