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Coming in Wednesday’s Appeal

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AP Photo/Isaac BrekkenFormer Nevada Republican Gov.Kenny Guinn, right, jokes with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney following a news conference at the Residence Inn in Las Vegas today. Romney was in Southern Nevada before stopping at Mount Rose to speak to the Reno Tahoe Winter Olympics Committee.

2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was at the Mount Rose-Ski Tahoe Resort this afternoon to speak to the bid committee trying to bring the Olympic games to the Reno-Tahoe area in just over a decade.

The Reno Tahoe Winter Olympics Committee was formed in 2002. It followed a previous committee that intended to bid for the 2014 games, but withdraw the bid in order to present a stronger case for the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Nevada Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki.

“Make no mistake, the games take a major investment and a lot of work, but it is worth stretching for,” Romney said. “More so than financial gains, it is huge for the citizens of your city and state, they will get to experience the joy of serving others and the empowerment that stems from that feeling.”

A 2018 Reno-Tahoe bid will be presented to the United States Olympic Committee next summer. If that is accepted, a bid to the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, would be made in 2009, and a final decision wouldn’t be reached until 2011.

“There is no better feeling than watching the American team walk into the opening ceremonies, and when they carry the flag, it is a symbol of the nation which is the hope of the earth. I dearly hope that all of you get to share in that experience,” Romney said.

Before stopping at Mount Rose, Romney in his first public campaign stop in Southern Nevada, dodged questions about his stance on the construction of a nuclear waste dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Asked his position on Yucca Mountain, a project adamantly opposed by Nevada and most voters in the state, the former Massachusetts governor suggested that he might be sympathetic to Nevada’s fight, but fell short of taking a firm stance.

“I’m a federalist, I believe in the authority of states and clearly Nevadans have a lot to say about this and other policies,” Romney told reporters after meeting with campaign volunteers in Las Vegas.

“My position is I’m not going to do anything that puts the health or well-being of Nevadans at risk,” he said, adding, “It’s something I’m going to look at further as the results of the study that’s ongoing are provided.”

Yucca Mountain is a politically tricky issue for presidential candidates trying to woo Nevada voters, who have newfound clout thanks to an early caucus on Jan. 19.

Some, including Romney’s opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, have supported the dump. Others come from states with large number of nuclear power plants and face pressure to find a place to store waste from those plants.

Romney’s top rival, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, has said he’s concerned about safety at Yucca Mountain, but will not rule out continuing its development. McCain says he sticks by his votes in the Senate, calling it an issue of national security.

Romney made his comments while standing next to former Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Romney backer and longtime opponent of the dump. Guinn said he believes his candidate would come around on the issue.