Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned in Fargo Thursday morning, ahead of the Super Tuesday caucus in North Dakota.
Romney's theme of a business-friendly federal government played well with the audience. He spoke to a crowd of about 200 who gathered at a Fargo plumbing and construction business.
Romney contrasted his views on energy and business with those of President Barack Obama. Romney told the crowd he wants to return the federal government to the principles that built America.
"The kind of American principles of small government, entrepreneurship and innovation and pioneering and opportunity," he said. "If you believe those are the principles we need and a person who understands how to apply those principles is the kind of leader we need, then I'm asking for your vote."
Romney promised to balance the federal budget. He also said he would support expanded oil exploration on federal lands. Drilling is a hot topic in North Dakota because the state is in the midst of an unprecedented oil boom.
"This is a president who does not understand energy. He is the problem, he is not the solution," Romney said. "It's time to get him out of office and get someone in who will get us energy secure."
Former Republican North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer said he doesn't see a clear front runner among the Republican candidates yet, but he said Romney's experience as a governor and businessman gives him the edge.
"Do you understand the principles of government, the economy, jobs and business and how they're interrelated? And it seems to me Governor Romney at this point in time has shown he has the biggest grasp of that and how it works in our state," Schafer said.
As they left the rally, Iola and Benny Peterson of Moorhead, Minn. explained why they are Romney supporters.
"Family, morals. He's proven that he knows how to handle money. He's conservative, which we very definitely need," Iola Peterson said.
"We can't rely on government to take care of us. We take care of ourselves and get the government out of the way," Benny Peterson added.
Fargo resident Bruce Ely said he's been a Rick Santorum supporter, but he's now leaning toward Romney.
"You, know, it seems like we have a lot of candidates who have good strong moral family values," Ely said. "I'm all in favor of that. But when I consider everything that's going on I think we someone there who's a businessman. And Romney has that experience."
North Dakota Republicans will caucus on Tuesday and take a non-binding presidential preference vote.