By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – On a makeshift stage decked in Democratic blue and the giant letters, “Vote Early,” President Barack Obama tried to rekindle the enthusiasm that swept him into the White House four years ago.
Before a roaring crowd worked up earlier by singer Katy Terry at Doolittle Park in central Las Vegas Wednesday night, Obama exhorted his supporters to keep the faith.
“We’re not going back, we’re moving forward,” he hollered to chants of “Four more years! Four more years!”
About 10,000 people, according to Las Vegas police and campaign supporters, showed up for the rally in what was reminiscent of 2008 when Obama won Nevada by more than 100,000 votes over Republican John McCain.
Even though he’s ahead in the polls, the president, however, is in a dog-fight with Mitt Romney going into the last days of campaigning before the Nov. 6 election.
Early voting in Nevada, which began Oct. 20 and ends on Nov. 2, has Obama leading 57 percent to 43 percent, according to survey results.
Perry, a teen singing sensation, got the crowd into a frenzy with some of her hits, including Al Green’s soulful “Let’s Get Together,” one of the president’s favorite songs.
She wore a tight white dress imprinted like a President of the United States ballot, and a square box on her right hip filled in next to the names of Obama and Joe Biden.
She paused before the last song to exhort people in the crowd to vote early.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shelley Berkley, who is herself in a tight race with Republican Dean Heller, told the crowd that Nevada can be the key to re-electing Obama.
The president is on a two-day tour of key battleground states that included stops in Iowa and Colorado and was scheduled to head to Florida, Virginia and Ohio.
He started his speech Wednesday on Libya, a key foreign policy issue in the campaign, saying, “No act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”
He gave tribute to the Americans who lost their lives in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador to Tripoli,
Acknowledging the tough economic times, the president said Nevada had been hit hardest in the nation by the recession, but said Romney does not offer the right solution.
“I don’t think the best answers to today’s new challenges are old sales pitches,” Obama said. “And that’s what my opponent and the other side is trying to sell.”
Obama mocked Romney for his ideas about reforming Medicare and Social Security.
“I will never turn Medicare into a voucher,” the president said.
Las Vegas has become a hotspot for presidential campaign visits this election season. Vice President Joe Biden, presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, and now the president have visited the city and its suburbs.
The First Lady, Michelle Obama, is expected on Friday.
Romney’s campaign claimed that “over 6,000” spectators turned out to see the Republican candidate when he spoke at the Henderson Pavilion on Tuesday, although official capacity estimate for the space is slightly lower than 4,000.
In Henderson, Romney urged his supporters to not just to go vote, but also to go out and convert people who supported Obama in 2008 because “we cannot handle four more years” of Obama’s presidency.
In Clark County, political observers said Obama a near unstoppable “firewall,” already banking as much as a 25,000-vote lead through early voting.
Jon Ralston, author of the website RalstonFlash.com, said that perhaps Republicans are seeing internal polling that indicates Romney can overtake Obama’s Clark County advantage with big showings in the rest of the state.
“They’re seeing something that nobody else is except them,” he said. “The Democrats are building a firewall, so (Romney campaigners) are anticipating something that has not happened in the past, either a huge Republican surge or independents going big for Romney.”