Nevada race a big test for Clinton's campaign

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada was supposed to be one of Hillary Clinton's safest bets.

She already had staff on the ground last spring, weeks before officially announcing her presidential bid.

See Full Article

One of her earliest campaign stops was an emotional meeting with immigrant students at a Las Vegas high school. And as recently as last month, her campaign manager was telling supporters she had a 25-point lead in the state.

But in the final days before Saturday's caucuses, Clinton's chances of a big victory look far more like a political crapshoot.

Rival Bernie Sanders, who didn't set up shop in Nevada until months after Clinton's staffers were there, is barnstorming the state, drawing thousands to rallies where they're cheering his promises to fight income equality and crack down on big banks. It's a compelling message in a state that's still struggling to rebound after years of double-digit unemployment.

"It is clear to me when mom is out working, dad is out working and the kids are out working, wages in America are too damn low," Sanders told 1,700 supporters packed into a Las Vegas high school gymnasium on Sunday. "It is not a radical socialist idea to say that when someone is working 40 hours a week that person should not be living in poverty."

His team is trying to turn the contest into a test of one of Clinton's major arguments: That her ability to woo the diverse voters who make up the Democratic party -- and the country -- leaves her the most electable candidate for a general election. Nevada is likely to be a general election battleground, giving it continued importance.

A victory on Saturday -- or even a narrow loss to Clinton-- would give Sanders' campaign a boost heading into the more racially diverse contests of South Carolina and the Southern states that vote just days later on Super Tuesday.

"If Bernie logs a win in Nevada it becomes a different conversation about his creditability as a nominee and Hillary's credibility as a campaigner," said Andres Ramirez, a veteran Democratic operative in the state who's backing Clinton. "We change the conversation dramatically."

Clinton's team tried to attribute Sanders' early win in New Hampshire and razor-thin loss in Iowa to his strength with white liberals. Now, they find themselves also downplaying expectations in Nevada, a state where minorities make up nearly half of the population. Eight years ago, one-third of Democratic caucus-goers were minority voters.

Eight years ago, Clinton won the popular vote here but lost the delegate count. Her current national campaign manager Robby Mook ran that primary race for her.

This time, her team vowed not to repeat previous mistakes. They worked on the kind of intense organizing typically necessary for caucus wins. And they made a concentrated push to expand her edge among Latino voters, who had favoured her in 2008.

But Sanders' appeal among first-time voters has complicated that calculus, given that Nevada's caucuses allow same-day registration.

"As soon as people become aware about Bernie," they're attracted to his policies, said 17-year-old Cynthia Salgado. "It sounds great, especially for the Latino community in Vegas," said Salgado, who switched from a Clinton supporter to a Sanders campaign volunteer after watching a Facebook video about the Vermont senator.

Sanders has also made a major push on television in the state, investing about $3.8 million on paid media to Clinton's $3.3 million, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's CMAG.

The campaigns have been trying to match each other's every overture toward minority communities.

Clinton crammed last weekend's schedule with a sandwich run in Chinatown and a roundtable discussion with young immigrants and their families. Sanders, meanwhile, stopped off for a pick-up game of soccer and calls for homemade tamales for volunteers.

"It's not necessarily that he's a white older man from Vermont, it's just that his policies ring true," said Cesar Vargas, a 32-year-old campaign staffer who crafted Sanders' immigration platform last fall.

Clinton placed one of her seven Nevada offices in the heavily Hispanic East Las Vegas neighbourhood, while Sanders added one of his twelve not far away. On Sunday, the two candidates found themselves sitting in the same front-row pew for dueling addresses at an African-American church.

Sanders got applause for a speech condemning mass incarceration and police shootings. Clinton, who received an introduction by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, peppered her speech with praise for Obama.

"A few African-Americans may be swayed by Bernie because he says so many things about the prison system," said 38-year-old David Carnell, an African-American Clinton supporter. "But in the end, black people remember what she did and what she's stood for years ago. I don't think that's going to change."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • N.C. restaurant hit with US$308,000 water bill for 13 days of service

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two brothers launching a new restaurant in North Carolina found themselves deluged by a $308,000 water bill. But now their water worries are over. The Charlotte Observer reported that Faraz and Faisal Syed received the enormous bill in March, about two months before the Lazeez Mediterranean Grill had opened in that city. Source
  • Calgary man who contracted flesh eating disease overseas now recovering at home

    Canada News CTV News
    *Warning: Graphic images shown in the video may be disturbing to some A Calgary man who contracted flesh-eating disease while on vacation has returned home and is recovering after a harrowing medical ordeal overseas. Source
  • British Airways flights out of London grounded by computer outage

    World News CBC News
    British Airways cancelled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend. The airline said it was suffering a "major IT systems failure" around the world. Source
  • Conservatives pick new federal leader today

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — The final votes will be cast today for a new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Some 259,000 people are eligible to vote, deciding between 13 candidates running the gamut from former cabinet ministers to one who has never held public office. Source
  • Global computer outage grounds British Airways Heathrow, Gatwick flights

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — British Airways cancelled all flights from London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend. The airline said it was suffering a “major IT systems failure” around the world. Source
  • More arrests in Manchester bombing as U.K. lowers threat level

    World News Toronto Sun
    MANCHESTER, England — Britain reduced its terrorism threat level a notch, from “critical” to “severe,” as authorities said major progress has been made in unravelling the plot behind the Manchester bombing. More arrests are expected. Prime Minister Theresa May said “a significant amount of police activity” and several arrests had led to the level being lowered. Source
  • ISIS claims responsibility for deadly attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt

    World News Toronto Sun
    MINYA, Egypt — The Islamic State group on Saturday claimed responsibility for the attack on a bus carrying Christians on their way to a remote desert monastery south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, which killed 29. Egypt responded to Friday’s attack by launching a series of airstrikes that targeted what it said were militant bases in eastern Libya in which the assailants were trained. Source
  • 100 dead, 99 missing in Sri Lankan mudslides [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    AGALAWATTE, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s military said Saturday that it is doubtful any missing people will be found alive two days after torrents of mud triggered by heavy rain covered homes in southern and western parts of the country, killing 100 people and leaving 99 others missing. Source
  • Police on scene as London's Old Vic evacuated during performance

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- The Latest on the concert bombing in Manchester, England (all times local): 3:15 p.m. Hundreds of people have been evacuated London's Old Vic Theatre during a performance and police say they are on the scene. Source
  • Nothing suspicious found after London's Old Vic evacuated during performance

    World News CTV News
    MANCHESTER, England -- The Latest on the concert bombing in Manchester, England (all times local): 5:10 p.m. Police say nothing suspicious has been found at London's Old Vic Theatre after a security alert prompted the evacuation of cast and audience in the middle of a performance. Source