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Romney tries to personalize pitch in closing days of campaign


RENO, NV -- Mitt Romney returned to Nevada for the second straight day on Wednesday, hoping to boost support in this critical Western battleground by personalizing his message to different slices of Silver State voters.

Romney again claimed his three debates versus President Barack Obama, the last of which was on Monday in Florida, claiming the post-debate momentum and seizing the mantle of being the candidate of "change."

Campaigning in Reno, Gov. Mitt Romney tells an enthusiastic crowd that he will help Nevadans by creating jobs and help the state crawl out of its housing crisis. Watch the entire speech.

"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," Romney said of his debates with President Obama, as well as the VP debate. "I know he’s got a lot of discussion he’s trying to talk to people about it but you know you can boil what he’s saying down to four simple words: And that is more of the same. And we don’t want more of the same. We can’t afford four more years like the last four years."

Romney has hammered at that message at each of three campaign stops since the final debate Monday night, looking to convince voters his campaign has momentum and that the president's cause is fizzling.

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan talk on the tarmac at the airport in Denver, Colorado before parting ways to campaign separately October 24, 2012.

"The Obama campaign is slipping and shrinking," Romney told the 2,000-plus supporters gathered here today. "The president can't seem to find an agenda to help America's families."

The GOP nominee, who has sometimes struggled to connect personally with voters, today amended his stump speech to touch on how his plan would be better for Americans in specific demographic groups, using the issue of debt and deficits to appeal for support from young women by describing how debts run up by the president could cost them a chance at the American dream.

"Let me tell you how else this might affect, might affect your family, how this choice that you’re making will make a difference in your family. You might have a daughter graduating from college this spring. And she’s gonna come out and she’s gonna probably have 10 or $20,000 in student loans to pay back, and she’s going to be paying the interest on that for a long, long time," Romney said.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been greeted by increasingly enthusiastic crowds even in the midst of the latest controversy to hit the campaign, a comment from Indiana Republican Sen. candidate Richard Mourdock. NBC's Peter Alexander reports.

"But in addition to those loans, there’s something else that she has, about $50,000 per person for America in debt," Romney said of a hypothetical young woman who graduated from college with student loan debt. "And so when she gets her first paycheck and she sees the deductions for taxes, some of those taxes are going to pay for that debt, and for things she didn’t get, for things that our generation took upon ourselves. And she’s going to be paying for that all of her life. And so the American dream she had been told about by you, her parents, that American dream is going to be out of reach."

In Nevada, the state with the nation's worst unemployment rate, currently stuck at 11.8 percent, Romney did not linger more than usual on his five-point jobs plan, but promised the steps would "get America's economy just cooking again."

To win Nevada's six electoral votes, Romney advisers say the GOP candidate must overperform here in Washoe county, which broke for Obama by 12 points in 2008 but is traditionally more of a swing county. A strong performance there would be necessary to counteract the union-backed Democratic machine in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and the state's largest population center.

Voters like Steve Wren, 50, a pastor at a church in Reno and a self-described "pro-life Democrat," could be key to Romney's success here. Wren joined his wife, who is supporting Romney, at today's event and told NBC News before the event began that he was still unsure if he would vote for the GOP nominee this time around, after reluctantly breaking from his lifelong support for Democrats to vote for Sen. John McCain in 2008.

"I think he made it clear with what he said. I think its pretty obvious that, well, its obvious to me, that I don't really like where we're going and so we sort of have one choice," Wren said after the rally, adding that he would most likely be voting for Romney after being pleasantly surprised by how "genuine and real" Romney seemed in person.

"I heard a lot of the stuff that I've always heard, so maybe it was just being here and seeing him in person but there was just something that seemed really passionate and genuine, so I was touched by that," Wren said.