Las Vegas (CNN) – President Barack Obama began his three-day debate preparation cram session by rallying voters at an outdoor event at a Las Vegas high school.
The president continued his campaign theme to create jobs, a key issue in the state of Nevada.
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“We can keep giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, or we can reward companies that are opening new plants and hiring new workers right here in Nevada. That’s what I want to do. I want to help big factories and small businesses exports more,” Obama told the crowd of more than 11,000 at Desert Pines High School.
Obama campaign officials touted the fact that 19,800 jobs have been created in Nevada in the past 30 months and the unemployment rate has dropped 1.7 percentage points. But the state’s unemployment rate remains the worst in the country, at 12.1% - four points above the national average.
The president also continued his attacks on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s economic plan and said the choice was between two fundamentally different approaches.
“(Romney) thinks that if we just spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, if we get rid of regulations on Wall Street, then all our problems will be solved. And jobs and prosperity will trickle down on all of you, and the deficit will disappear, and we’ll live happily ever after,” Obama said. “There’s only one problem with that. We just tried that in the decade before I became president. It didn’t work. Top-down economics never works.”
The president is preparing for the debates in Nevada because it is a swing state and represents key issues for re-election, campaign officials said.
“It's a place where we think the president's commitment to fighting for middle-class tax cuts, his commitment to remaining focused on improving the housing market - which is such a key issue in Nevada,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One. “It's a place where people care deeply about having someone in office who will fight for comprehensive immigration reform in the White House.”
She also said the president will spend time in the battleground state before early voting begins in less than three weeks on October 20h.
An NBC/WSJ/Marist Poll released Thursday found Obama leading Romney by two percentage points (49 to 47) in the state of Nevada. Obama carried the state by 12 points in 2008.