COEUR d'ALENE - While Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Ohio battling for a win there, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter visited Coeur d'Alene to stump for Romney ahead of today's Idaho caucus.
Otter on Monday laid out the reasons for his endorsing Romney to a crowd of nearly 100 people at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.
He said Romney is the best candidate because of his experience turning around the Salt Lake City Olympics, his performance as governor of Massachusetts and his business background. Otter said he's also most capable of beating President Barack Obama in the general election.
He said Romney cut taxes in Massachusetts 19 times, and he vetoed more than 800 bills. Romney left the state with a surplus of $2 billion at the end of his governorship.
"We've got to have a turnaround expert," Otter said in an interview before his speech. "Romney is a turnaround expert."
Romney understands states' rights, and local control, which are dear to Idaho voters, Otter said.
"I'm confident that (Romney's) going to see the wisdom of engaging and partnering up with states rather than dictating to them," Otter said. "He also understands how much regulations can cost businesses and industry."
Otter said Romney would be strong on gun rights, too. Perhaps nothing is more sacred to Idaho voters than the Second Amendment, he noted.
Otter, who has a libertarian streak, said he doesn't back Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who has his own libertarian tinge. Otter served with Paul in Congress.
Otter said he disagrees with Paul's positions on controlled substances and national defense.
"When you're high on dope, you're not free," Otter said. On defense, "I think you have got to be the toughest kid on the block in this world."
In his speech at The Resort, Otter said, "I know all the candidates (in the Republican primary), but I'll tell you Mitt Romney is the most successful conservative of all those candidates."
Otter told the audience Romney entered office as governor of Massachusetts facing a $2 billion debt, and left with the state in the black.
"Be Romney's champion," Otter said.
Romney supporter Kathy Reid, of Hayden, showed up to hear Otter.
She said she supports Romney because of his business experience, his family values, moral character, and his ability to beat Obama in November.
"Because I really think that he can do it," she said. "And he's actually governed a state."
She also likes that he's not a Washington, D.C., "insider."
Another Romney supporter, Terre Gagnon of Hayden Lake, said Romney has been a successful businessman, "And he wants me and my family and friends to be successful, too."
Prior to the function, Otter toured The Resort to see the updates that were recently completed.
He told the crowd before his speech that he was "astonished" at the changes there, adding it was a "miracle" how quickly the work was completed.