GOP Sen. Heller calls for next Reagan

Published Caption: Associated Press

Published Caption: Associated Press

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HENDERSON - Nevada Republicans painted President Barack Obama as a foe to capitalism who cannot rejuvenate the wounded economy at a daylong rally Saturday designed to organize conservative voters in a state that backed Obama in 2008.

Sen. Dean Heller told participants in the annual Conservative Leadership Conference in Henderson that 2012 offered "an opportunity to elect the next Ronald Reagan."

"Finally, someone who understands that you can't be pro-jobs and anti-business," he told the cheering crowd of more than 100 conservatives.

But, in a nod to the uncertain GOP presidential field, Heller said he could not name which candidate might fill that role.

Republican presidential hopefuls Herman Cain and Gary Johnson were scheduled to address the conservative conference Saturday afternoon. Organizers initially planned to host a Republican presidential debate, but postponed it indefinitely after Mitt Romney announced he would not attend the conference.

Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart was scheduled to give the keynote address Saturday afternoon at the conference. Breitbart recently made headlines for sharing lewd photographs that resulted in the resignation of New York Democrat Anthony Weiner from the U.S. House.

Even without a chosen rival to defeat Obama, Nevada Republicans at the conference were quick to rattle off a list of Obama's alleged missteps and link Nevada's record unemployment to Washington.

Heller called Obama a tax advocate who has turned health care over to trial lawyers and put unions in charge of job creation. Heller was recently appointed to the Senate from the U.S. House to fill a vacancy. He is running against Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley in Nevada's 2012 Senate race.

"These are the troops that get involved," Heller told reporters after his speech. "You want to keep them happy."

Republican congressional candidate Mark Amodei said Obama is responsible for Nevada's highest in the nation unemployment rate. Amodei, who is running against Democratic Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall to replace Heller in the House, urged conservatives to support his campaign as a sign of Republican unity.

"This special election on Sept. 13 is phenomenally important for setting the stage for everyone else on the Republican ticket," he said.

Heller said he would work with Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to raise money for GOP candidates in 2012 and organize voters. Sandoval did not attend the conference.

The Nevada Democratic Party had someone pose as Heller at the conference Saturday and carry a sign that read, "Death Tax Dean." Democrats have sought to portray Heller as a flip-flopper who supported taxes as a state assemblyman two decades ago, but has since embraced a no-tax stance.


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