CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Don't mistake Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's invitations to the Republican presidential contenders as anything more than a hospitable gesture. The governor is staying out of the nomination fight despite his rising stature in the GOP - or perhaps because of it.
Sandoval has invited the candidates to his office this week as they campaign ahead of Saturday's caucuses. If they make the trip to Carson City, the four - Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum - can count on a smile and a firm handshake but no public stamp of approval.
"There isn't a candidate that wouldn't love to have his support, that's for sure," said Bob List, state Republican committeeman and a former Nevada governor who endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Sandoval was quick to endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry in this year's presidential race, only to see him drop out last month after dismal showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Now, Sandoval is pledging his "full support" to whomever wins the party nomination. And he has recorded an automated phone message urging Nevada Republicans to vote in the caucuses - for any of the candidates.
The Republican National Committee has tapped Sandoval and others to campaign in battleground states this year as the party looks to win the White House.
Sandoval’s engagement with the candidates comes as they are all working to rally voters, hoping to make a last minute push in the Silver State.
In the midst of it, Romney has had to backtrack on some comments he made this week.
“What I said was, my focus, my primary focus is on helping people get into the middle class and grow the middle class. We have a safety net that protects the poor,” Romney said.
“I want to keep that safety net strong and able,” he added.
Meanwhile, Romney is counting on billionaire businessman Donald Trump, to give him a boost. On Thursday, Trump, who once considering a run for the White House himself, endorsed the current front runner.
“It’s my honor, really, honor and privilege,” Trump said.