Obama drops in to give lift to fellow Democratic candidates

It was billed as a rally for President Barack Obama, but it was more than that.

The massive gathering of mostly Democrats early Thursday afternoon at the Cheyenne Sports Complex was all about lifting down-ticket Democrats locked in tough races.

For his part, Congressional District 4 candidate Steven Horsford couldn't help but smile as he worked the line that snaked through the College of Southern Nevada's Cheyenne campus parking lot. Dressed in his blue campaign T-shirt, Horsford appreciated the political gift as he battles Republican Danny Tarkanian.

"The president has always focused on Nevada," Horsford said. "Nevada is a battleground state. We knew it from the very beginning. From re-electing the president to making sure that he has people in Congress that are going to work with him like Shelley Berkley in the Senate, myself in the House, Dina Titus and John Oceguera. We're all working toward the same thing. … It's great to see so much energy, so much diversity, and that's what the Democratic Party stands for."

Down the line, surgical technician Jason Robertson, said he appreciated Obama's stance on women's health issues. College student and first-time voter Raneka Miller was joined by friends Ebony Sutton and Renee Jones, who wanted to ensure the president knew his Nevada outreach efforts and focus on education were appreciated. All four had voted.

Nearby, registered Republicans Dawn and Larry McCollum felt a little like they were behind enemy lines. They voted for Mitt Romney, but they wanted to see the president speak in person.

"We're undercover," Larry said.

"I came out because it's the only time I have available to come and see him," Dawn added.

REID RHETORIC: During this week's editorial board meeting with El Tiempo Spanish-language newspaper, a sister publication of the Review-Journal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recalled the "decades" of difficulty he had persuading members of his own party to embrace the potential of the Hispanic voting bloc.

"The Hispanics have come to the realization that the Republicans are not their friends," Reid said.

Catch some of the senator's other pointed remarks on my blog at lvrj.com.

POLL POSITIONS: Does that mean Democrats can count on the same level of enthusiasm in 2012? Maybe.

While the most recent Review-Journal/8NewsNow poll shows Obama's lead over Romney widening, the survey wasn't as kind to down-ticket Democrats despite the party's dramatic turnout advantage during early voting.

Perhaps the biggest news to emerge from the SurveyUSA poll came in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Dean Heller and Berkley. According to the survey, Heller is ahead 46 percent to 40 percent, and Hispanic voters supposedly are split between the candidates.

The survey also shows a whopping 6 percent of voters support Independent American Party candidate David Lory VanDerBeek. Are his campaign skills woefully underrated? Is someone pumping him up, or pulling the pollster's leg?

"None of these" gets 4 percent, and 4 percent more remain undecided. (Come on, people. Flip a coin before the polls close.)

READERS REJOICE: Do yourself a favor this weekend. Shut off the negative TV ads and check out the annual Vegas Valley Book Festival at the historic Fifth Street School downtown and the Clark County Library at 1401 E. Flamingo Road. There's something for every reading taste.

The panel discussion titled "The Rise and Fall and Rise of Las Vegas," featuring authors Sally Denton and Geoff Schumacher at 10 a.m. Saturday at Fifth Street School, sounds especially intriguing - even a little optimistic.

For a full schedule of events:vegasvalleybookfestival.org.

NEVADA HISTORY: Former Lt. Gov. Dr. Lonnie Hammargren once again opens his Home of Nevada History from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 4318 Ridgecrest Drive. For fans of local history and general strangeness, it's a jaw-dropping experience.

Think of Hammargren as one part historian, one part hoarder.

Have an item for Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Smith.