Looks like Mitt Romney will be spending his upcoming Valentine’s Day in fabulous Las Vegas, addressing the 2,500 members of the International Franchise Association. The speech is an opportunity for Romney to showcase his business acumen in the 2012 Presidential caucus state of Nevada. As Eric McPike reports in a Real Clear Politics article this morning, the IFA’s 51st annual convention will take place in Las Vegas from Feb. 13 to 16th. The event will be held at the MGM Grand, with the theme “Building the Future Together.” The emphasis of the confab will be focused on how small business owners can position themselves “as the economy begins to improve.” Romney will have to strike the right balance of criticism of President Obama’s handling of the economy, while conditions may seem to be improving.
Additional focus is being centered on this event, since Romney is a leading contender for the GOP Nomination in 2012, should he decide to run. Nevada is now emerging as an important early voting state in that process. While Romney won the Nevada caucus quite handily in 2008, the delegates he won were none binding, so there was little importance attached to his win. In 2012, all that will be changed.
According to CNN:
“Last weekend, in hopes of preventing a repeat performance, Republican state party leaders changed the rules to make the 2012 caucus results binding, meaning that delegates attending the Republican National Convention in Florida the following summer must stick with the candidate choices determined by the caucus results.”
The Nevada caucus, which will be the third of four early nomination voting states in 2012, along with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, will award its delegates on a proportional, as opposed to a winner-take-all basis. The hope of party leaders is to have a more energetic and active exchange among the candidates.
Usually we’ve been the ugly stepchild that nobody cared about,” says Heidi Smith, a Nevada member of the Republican National Committee. “This time around it’s going to be important for the candidates to come here and prove themselves to the people of Nevada.
According to Laura Meyers of The Las Vegas Review–Journal, Romney seems to have a decent head start in Nevada, thanks to his name recognition and his winning performance here in 2008. Meyers then adds:
That’s one reason Republican leaders decided last month not to make Nevada’s February 2012 GOP caucuses a winner-take-all contest. They wanted to attract all GOP presidential comers to compete for delegates instead of potentially ceding the state to Romney if he jumps into the race.
“I think everyone has to recognize that Mitt Romney will be the front-runner in the Nevada caucuses,” said Jack St. Martin, a GOP consultant based in the state. “The question will be how strongly he finishes and who finishes second, and how strong a second.”
So by deciding to award the caucus delegates proportionally, Nevada will see its status as an early decider in Republican Presidential politics raised significantly. For Romney it offers both a challenge and an opportunity. Romney will now have to work a little harder to ensure a victory in a state in which he will be favored in, much like New Hampshire. However, a victory in both states will provide him with the needed momentum to enter any proportional primaries to be held in March or Super Tuesday in early April.
The announcement for Romney’s Las Vegas appearance touts his business, managerial and political record and skills: