Nightly News   |  February 02, 2012

Donald Trump backs Mitt Romney

The endorsement of a billionaire businessman gave Democrats new fodder for attacks on cable. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> to the campaign trail today. donald trump found a way to thrust himself back into the spotlight backing mitt romney , who was also pushing back against criticism that he is making too many verbal mistakes and it could hurt his candidacy. nbc's peter alexander on the trail tonight in las vegas . peter, good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening to you. there was no better evidence this campaign moved to the wild west than donald trump taking the stage today. he said he's had several meetings in recent months with mitt romney and said he was ultimately swayed by romney 's strong performance in recent debates. ever the showman, donald trump stepped into the spotlight today alongside mitt romney .

>> it's my honor, real honor and privilege to endorse mitt romney .

>> reporter: in an event that lasted barely five minutes, romney himself seemed to acknowledge the sheer spectacle of it all.

>> there are some things you can't imagine happening in your life. this is one of them.

>> reporter: the hype vintage vegas came with plenty of confusion. several media outlets initially reported trump would back newt gingrich who later was dismissive.

>> the donald is a force of his own.

>> reporter: for romney , the endorsement of a billionaire businessman with this as his signature line --

>> you're fired --

>> reporter: gave democrats new fodder for attacks on cable.

>> they both like firing people and made millions doing it.

>> reporter: in this new web ad --

>> you're fired.

>> i like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

>> reporter: romney campaign officials insist the support of trump, a tea party favorite, sends a message to the grassroots. today many conservatives are still scratching their heads after romney 's clumsy comments showing indifference to the poor.

>> i'm not concerned about the very poor. we have a safety net there.

>> let me tell you what was wrong about it, it was almost martian-like in its remove from the concerns of regular people .

>> reporter: it's not the first time romney 's gaffes got him into trouble.

>> corporations are people, my friend.

>> i like being able to fire people who provide services to me.

>> there were times i wondered if i would get a pink slip .

>> $10,000 bet?

>> reporter: today gingrich commented on romney 's latest verbal fumble.

>> i believe we should care about the very poor, unlike governor romney .

>> reporter: tonight romney is trying to put those inelegant comments behind him and turn a corner. he is refocusing on the central theme of his campaign that his private sector experience makes him the best candidate to improve the american economy .

>> just another day on the campaign trail. peter alexander from las vegas . thanks.