RENO - Vice President Joe Biden kicked off a two-day campaign swing through Nevada on Wednesday by appealing to Nevadans to get to the polls as soon as early voting begins Saturday to help make sure President Obama carries the key swing state again.
"You probably don't need to be reminded but in Nevada, early voting starts Oct. 20. So there is no reason to wait until Nov. 6 to make sure we win," he told a crowd of more than 500 in a ballroom at a Reno convention center.
"If we win Nevada we will win this election," said Biden, who delivered a similar message earlier Wednesday in Colorado.
Four years ago, Obama became the first Democrat to carry Reno's GOP-leaning Washoe County since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and his campaign is counting on a similar effort - combined with strong turnout in the heavily Democratic Las Vegas area - to offset the rest of the state that is largely rural and staunchly GOP.
"Nevada has the potential to swing this election," Dana Galvin, president of the Washoe Education Association, said as the crowd chanted "four more years" and "Joe, Joe, Joe" before Biden began his half-hour speech about an hour after it had been scheduled.
"There is too much on the line not to make your voice heard," she said.
Biden said Republican Mitt Romney wants to return to the same failed GOP policies in place under the previous Bush administration.
"We've seen this movie before - shred regulations, let Wall Street have its way, let banks right their own rules, massive tax cuts - unpaid for - for the wealthy," he said. "The last time this happened, the middle class was crushed. Nine million jobs were lost, almost all of them through no fault of their own."
"No state suffered more than yours as a consequence," he said about the state that remains near the top of the nation in terms of foreclosures and unemployment but has seen those numbers improve in recent months.
Biden said Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, continue to spread doom and gloom about the economy despite signs of recovery.
"I've never seen two candidates more negative about the economy," Biden said. "I don't recognize the country they are talking about."
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan are dead wrong. America is neither dependent nor is it decline."
Romney maintains the Obama administration is to blame for the economic woes. His campaign parked a small bulldozer outside the convention hall in Reno with a sign that read, "We've been buried the last four years."
Christie Larsen, who runs a pastry shop in neighboring Sparks, said the sour economy is the main reason she's backing Romney.
"I'm tired of hearing Obama make excuses. He had four years to turn things around, and he didn't. I'm looking for a new guy," she said.