LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney said Friday that he would roll back bank regulations as part of his plan to “reignite the housing economy” in this state, which has been hit particularly hard by the housing meltdown.
Romney, who has faced calls to lay out more specific policy details, said during a rally at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas that the key is to get credit flowing again and start selling houses.
“Now, there are also some things we have to do to make housing work right here in Nevada. We have to reignite the housing economy here so that home values start going up again. This is unacceptable and some things I’ll do,” he said, adding that boarded up homes are a blight on communities. “The federal government has about 200,000 foreclosed homes they are holding onto, I’ll make sure we get them sold, so every home is occupied, we fix our neighborhoods.”
Nevada has been one the states that has suffered the most during the housing crises: Some 60 percent of homeowners are underwater. The campaign handed out a flier that highlighted the millions of homes underwater and falling home prices under Obama, and sent out an e-mail message to supporters with the subject line, “He can’t. I will.”
Romney’s statements at Friday’s event about how to revive the housing market seemed to differ from the approach he outlined in an October 2011 interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal’s editorial board. At the time he said: “As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things that you can do to encourage housing: One is, don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”
A recent CNN poll shows Obama with a slight edge over Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent among Nevada voters. With a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the country, Nevada is fertile ground for Romney to make his case on the economy.
Roughly 17 percent of eligible voters in this state are Latino, a voting bloc that Romney has struggled to connect with partly because of his stance on immigration. In his speech, he singled immigrant business owners as key to jumpstarting the economy and creating new jobs.
“Did you know that the immigrant community, Latinos and other immigrants, come here, they build new businesses more often than those of us who have been here all of our lives,” he told the crowd of about 1,500. “We welcome people who come here and build enterprises and put Americans to work and we want to help them.”