Ann Romney makes campaign appearance in Nevada

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — The wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appealed for votes Monday at a campaign rally outside Las Vegas with a message that her husband is compassionate, competent and prepared for the job.

Ann Romney's second appearance in less than a week in electoral battleground Nevada drew more than 1,000 people to a convention center in downtown Henderson.

"I believe with all of my heart that this man has been prepared," Romney said of her husband, who was in Denver on Monday preparing for a Wednesday debate with President Barack Obama.

The crowd cheered and waved red-white-and-blue pom-poms. Three women in seats behind Romney waved pink capital letters A-N-N.

"He understands," she said of her husband. "He has done it before. He has turned things around."

She referred to her husband's role as executive of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, and his four years as governor of Massachusetts.

"I've seen him do it time and time again," Ann Romney said. "He's compassionate and he's competent."

Much of the 12-minute speech repeated themes that Ann Romney expressed during a similarly brief campaign stop in Reno on Thursday, including a call for the country to "fire the coach."

She stayed after the speech for several minutes to reach down from the podium and shake hands with supporters.

Democrats have tried to portray Mitt Romney as a wealthy elitist, out of touch with everyday people, and the Obama campaign has highlighted Romney's comment at a private fundraiser in May that 47 percent of Americans believe they are victims entitled to government assistance. A secret recording of the comments emerged last month.

Romney supporter Andrea Nielson of Henderson said she was not offended by the 47 percent comment.

"It's what everybody thinks, but no one dares say," she said.

Nielson, a mother of five and a Mormon who voted for Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008, called Ann Romney a model for women in the country.

"To raise five boys, to fight through her medical issues, she had to be strong," Nielson said. She referred to Ann Romney's battles with breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. "That's what I like. A strong woman."

National Rifle Association member and activist Eric McGovern of Las Vegas wore a blaze orange T-shirt with "Defeat Obama" on the back and the letters NRA on the front. He distributed campaign stickers and orange hand fans to people arriving for the Romney rally.

McGovern said he campaigns door-to-door for Mitt Romney, and said he's encountered many people who said they remained undecided about whom to vote for.

Country singer Jamie O'Neal warmed up the crowd with songs including her "When I Think About Angels" and Journey's 1981 standard, "Don't Stop Believing." The performance contrasted with a set Sunday evening by superstar Mexican rock band Mana during an outdoor appearance by President Barack Obama that drew 11,000 people to an eastside Las Vegas high school stadium.

Romney campaign spokesman Mason Harrison said more than 1,000 free tickets were distributed for the Ann Romney appearance, and it appeared that at least that number of people crammed into the convention hall.

Ann Romney was just seven miles from a Lake Las Vegas resort where Obama was practicing for his Wednesday debate with Mitt Romney in Denver.

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