Democratic candidates scramble across Nevada on the eve of the state’s caucuses
With less than 24 hours until the balloting begins, Democratic hopefuls skittered across Nevada in a final push Friday ahead of the state’s presidential caucuses, the third contest of the 2020 campaign.
“Sounds like the start of a poem, doesn’t it,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joked before a crowd of several hundred at an outdoor rally at the Clark County Government Center amphitheater in Las Vegas. “‘Twas the night before caucus ...”
With that, she rolled into her pitch, centered on efforts to hold mortgage companies accountable for the 2008 housing market crash, which hit Nevada particularly hard. “This is the moment, our chance to make a government work for all of us,” Warren said. “For me, that’s what tomorrow is all about. So let’s do this one together.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar tailored her remarks for local consumption, name-checking prominent Nevada Democrats — including, approvingly, the state’s two female U.S. senators — and citing her willingness to appeal to rural voters who may be unaccustomed to such courtship.
“I’ve been to Fallon, I’ve been to Lovelock,” she told a crowd of about 250 at a Boys & Girls Club in Reno after a stop earlier Friday in Elko, population 20,000.
In a veiled poke at Michael R. Bloomberg, the free-spending billionaire, and other rivals making extravagant promises, Klobuchar said, “This isn’t about the biggest bank account, it’s about the best ideas and if you can put those ideas into action.”
Joe Biden, campaigning at a middle school in Las Vegas, also took shots at Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders: New York’s former mayor for flooding the airwaves with ads that make it seem like President Obama endorsed him — he has not — and Sanders for his expansive and expensive “Medicare for all” plan.
The former vice president also made a special appeal to Latino voters, a key constituency in Nevada.
“It’s the single most important group in America,” Biden said. “It’s in the overwhelming interest of us to make sure as we rebuild the middle class, it is an essential part.”
The caucuses begin at noon on Saturday and could bring some clarity to the muddled contest after an effective tie in the Iowa caucuses between Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, and a narrow Sanders win in New Hampshire.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Buttigieg traveled to the desert on the edge of Las Vegas to lay out his plan to protect the environment and fight climate change.
“We know that our public lands and our public waters are some of the greatest assets of our country, our economy,” Buttigieg said at a roundtable at Clark County Wetlands Park. “They represent our cultural heritage and they also define who we are as a country, and as mayor I also have a soft spot for anything related to parks and recreation.”
Buttigieg called for protecting 30% of American lands and waters by 2030, having a zero-emission electricity system by 2035, investing $90 billion in the water system, recruiting 5,000 firefighters, and not storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, a proposed dump 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
“I’m thankful for the chance to shine a light on an issue that is so important and has been mostly absent from the dialogue in the presidential campaign,” Buttigieg said. “These are the decisions that we make that will be judged on long after we are no longer here.”
The other billionaire in the race, political activist Tom Steyer, told union members in Las Vegas his business acumen made him the Democrat best positioned to defeat President Trump.
“I can kick his ass on the economy,” Steyer said, referring to the president’s posh resort as he described the country’s prosperity as “a Mar-a-Lago economy.”
“It’s good for the people in the Mar-a-Lago country club,” Steyer said. “It’s terrible for working people.”
Steyer also warned the crowd at Doña Maria Mexican restaurant that if they failed to unite and work hard for the Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be, Trump would be reelected.
“If we turn out, we win. If we don’t turn out, we’re screwed,” Steyer said. “That is 2020 in a nutshell.”
Times staff writers Mark Z. Barabak in Reno and Matt Pearce in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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