Paul Ryan in Las Vegas (Steve Marcus/Reuters)LAS VEGAS-- On the second day of Paul Ryan's cross-country solo tour as Mitt Romney's running mate, the Wisconsin congressman visited Nevada, where he promised the Republican administration would turn around the economy and met privately with top Republican donors at the Venetian Hotel.
Arriving Tuesday afternoon after a rally that focused on energy policy near Denver, Colo., thousands of enthusiastic supporters greeted Ryan at Palo Verde High School, while hundreds more watched from an overflow section outside where the temperature reached over 100 degrees.
In a state still struggling to recover from the housing market crash and an unemployment rate above 11 percent, Ryan spoke as though he was a prophet--or a false prophet, if you're a Democrat--sent to deliver Romney's gospel, promising to turn the state's economy around. Standing in the high school's gymnasium in front of an American flag and the new Romney-Ryan logo, Ryan said he would make "a covenant" with voters to boost the economy if elected.
"This is ours to you: We will get this economy running," Ryan said. "We will turn things around. We will get this country back on track. And we will not duck the tough issues. We will lead."
When he finished speaking, Ryan greeted supporters along the rope line before driving with his motorcade toward the Las Vegas strip, where he met with about 40 donors at the sprawling Venetian hotel. In attendance at the event, which campaign aides said was a finance meeting, not a fundraiser, was Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who owns the hotel and casino. Adelson and his wife have pledged to give as much as $100 million to Republican causes this election cycle, and have already donated $20 million to organizations supportive of Romney's presidential campaign.
Not allowed inside the meeting, reporters gathered near the elevators leading to the Paiza Club. Adelson arrived early with body guards, a hotel employee said. When the meeting ended, Republican donors clutching documents from the Romney-Ryan campaign walked briskly through the lobby and declined to discuss details of the event.
"It was a private meeting," one attendee said.
After more than an hour of waiting near the elevators, hotel staff told some reporters to leave the hotel. Most responded by simply retreating out of sight and peeking around corners and columns in as they tried to catch a glimpse of Adelson or Ryan.
Outside the resort, several hundred union demonstrators from the American Federation of Government Employees gathered to protest Ryan's visit. Many of the marchers, who carried signs that read "Paul Ryan: Hustling for the 1%" and Romney/Ryan: Road To Ruin" were flown in from out of state for a nearby convention.
From Las Vegas, Ryan will continue his battleground state tour with more public events and fundraisers planned in Ohio and Virginia later this week.