Prominent women back Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has some well-known women on his side in Nevada.

The Delaware senator's Nevada Women for Biden Outreach Committee includes Barbara Aupperle, a former president of the state's Service Employees International Union, and Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, a Democratic activist and daughter of former Rep. Jim Bilbray.

Also on the list are Elizabeth Carter, daughter-in-law of former President Carter and wife of former Senate candidate Jack Carter; Lisa Mayo DeRiso, a Republican community activist who plans to switch parties to caucus for Biden; UNLV professor Mary Hausch; Erin Smith, daughter of Assemblywoman Debbie Smith and an aide to Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley; and Hispanic activist Vicenta Montoya.

Aupperle said she was drawn to Biden because of the Violence Against Women Act he authored, as well as his foreign policy experience.

Bilbray-Axelrod agreed.

"Joe has the experience," she said. "Not only does he know what we need to do at home, he's on a first-name basis with many of the world leaders with which we so desperately need to repair our credibility nationwide."

A member of the Senate since 1973, Biden chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and has passed a bill in the Senate endorsing the "soft partition" of Iraq into a federal system with a weak central government.

Although mired in single digits in most polls of Democratic partisans, Biden's campaign sees signs of momentum and hopes a stronger-than-expected showing in Iowa will jump-start his chances.

"As a native Nevadan myself who has long admired these women, I know their support will be invaluable in helping our campaign organize and build support for Senator Biden leading up to a successful caucus night," his state director, Ronni Council, said.

Also boosted by a new Nevada supporter Friday was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. The Democrat announced that Dr. Jerry Cade will chair his advisory council on gay issues in the state.

Cade, a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS during the Clinton presidency, said he was impressed with Richardson's outreach to the local gay community.