By KASIE HUNT, ASSOCIATED PRESS
LAS VEGAS -- Mitt Romney expects Nevada's caucuses to kick off a month of primary and caucus contests to keep momentum on his side in the race for the GOP presidential nomination.
Polls show Romney far ahead in advance of Saturday's voting, which follows months of organizing by the campaign of the former Massachusetts governor. Next up are Colorado and Minnesota, two other states he won in 2008, and later in February is his home state of Michigan.
Just one debate is planned this month, which diminishes the chances that his chief rival, Newt Gingrich, can renew his candidacy with a highly publicized head-on challenge.
"It's going to be a great showing, I think, tomorrow," Romney told volunteers gathered Friday at Brady Industry offices. "We are showing that organization and hard work and commitment make a real difference."
Romney spent Friday crisscrossing the state, visiting Reno and the gold mining town of Elko before ending the day with a rally in Las Vegas. He plans a quick trip Saturday to Colorado and then an evening event at a Las Vegas casino.
The former Massachusetts governor kept his focus squarely on Democratic President Barack Obama, all but ignoring Gingrich. The former House speaker acknowledged he expects to lose to Romney but hopes to beat Ron Paul for second place.
Romney criticized Obama's handling of the economy, even as new jobs numbers showed a dip in the unemployment rate.
"The policies of this administration have not been helpful. They, in fact, have been harmful. They have slowed down the recovery, made it more difficult," Romney said at a home and yard supply company in Reno, where he talked about the economy with local business leaders. "The president deserves the blame that he'll receive in this campaign."