Clinton pitch hits home

People in the Las Vegas neighborhood saw all the cameras and trucks and buses and police on the streets Thursday, and they began to trickle out of their houses to find out what was going on.

Soon, as a sherbet-orange desert sunset filled the sky, they got their answer, as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton began walking up the street of low-slung houses near Eastern and Washington avenues, accompanied by the area’s representative, state Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen.

Clinton hugged Kihuen around the shoulders and asked about his family, and then the two began knocking on doors, the same doors Kihuen knocked on nearly two years ago in his first campaign. Clinton spent more than an hour in the predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhood.

Gilberto Santana, 38, sat on the edge of a chair as Clinton sat on the brown leather sofa in his living room next to his wife and two young children.

Santana told Clinton how his wife, Elizabeth, a housekeeper on the Strip, was barely supporting the family single-handedly while he was unable to work for two months because of an operation.

"We’re sort of struggling," he said. "We’re getting there, but you have to be strong to make it."

Clinton asked the couple questions about their mortgage and his disability payments, and answered his questions about immigration and the war and health care costs.

Stroking the 4-year-old girl’s head, Clinton said, "I feel so strongly that if we don’t take care of our children, we don’t take care of our future."

Santana said, "We are going to do everything we can to make sure that everyone in Las Vegas votes for you."

That is the warm, earnest, human side of campaigning, politicians comforting people with detailed explanations of how they will solve their problems and flattering them with their presence.

There was nobody who didn’t know who the Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady was, even if they didn’t speak English or weren’t old enough to vote. They flocked to her for camera-phone pictures, and she posed in tableaux of adorable multicultural children.

But Clinton is in the final heat of an intense race for the Democratic nomination, and Nevada, which holds the Democrats’ next contest, on Jan. 19, is ground zero for that cold, hard fight.

After leaving the Santanas’ house, Clinton walked across the street and took questions from a few of the dozens of reporters, standing in front of a faded American flag pinned to a dingy garage door.

Today, Clinton is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, where she will give a policy speech about the economy and what kind of stimulus she believes it needs.

"I think we’re slipping toward a recession," she said. "A couple of people that I met on the street, they work in construction. They tell me it’s slowed down."

She reiterated her doubts about the caucus process, which requires in-person, on-time participation.

"That is troubling to me," she said. "People who work during that amount of time, they’re disenfranchised. People who can’t be in the state or are in the military, they cannot be present. … If people feel like there’s no reason to participate or they can’t, then that’s the same thing. So I think it’s a problem."

Clinton and her busload of traveling press moved from there to the popular local Mexican restaurant Lindo Michoacan, where a "roundtable" that was actually square passed a microphone around to tell her people’s concerns about the mortgage crisis and foreclosures. She took notes and munched on tortilla chips.

In broken English, one woman told Clinton how she wasn’t making money as a broker anymore.

"I have no income at all," she said. "So how will I survive?"

Choking up with emotion, the woman said, "In my neighborhood, there are brand-new homes, but the value is nothing. I’m glad you are here so I can tell you, because you’re going to be the president, I know."

A man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal.

"No woman is illegal," Clinton said, to cheers.

Summing it up at the end, Clinton said, "We’ve only talked to a few people, but each of them talk about some part of the problem we are confronting. This is a problem that is only going to get worse if we don’t address it."

Clinton said unscrupulous lending leads to bad mortgages, which lead to foreclosures, which lead to people with nowhere to go and vacant neighborhoods that can go rapidly downhill.

"We treat these problems as if one is guacamole and one is chips, when … they both go together," she said.

In an interview, Clinton enthused about Nevada but didn’t predict victory.

"I never make predictions," she said. "But I’m very confident. We’ve got a great campaign here, we’ve got a lot of support across the state, and it just feels good. But of course the big question mark is, how many people are going to come out? And I keep urging people, get out and do this, for yourselves, your families, your future."

Clinton said Nevada, which stands to break the current tie between her and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in terms of how many victories they’ve chalked up, will be an important indicator of "what the people in the West think," but is not the end of the race.

"We have an election that’ll go through February fifth, maybe beyond. I’ve always run a national campaign."

Clinton said the race is "hard fought, as it should be. And I was very pleased that starting in New Hampshire we finally began to draw some contrasts and comparisons, because that’s what voters need to have. They need relevant information to make up their minds."

She recounted her work to help establish the Children’s Health Insurance Program, secure health care for members of the National Guard and Reserves, and oppose the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

"I come with all of my experience and my lifelong commitment to making positive change for people with a record on issues that matter to the people of Nevada."

With change the buzzword on everyone’s lips, and Obama’s soaring speeches credited with inspiring a movement of hope, she said, "I think there’s a difference between talking and acting and between rhetoric and reality."

Clinton criticized the ethics bill that is Obama’s signature achievement, saying it doesn’t prevent lobbyists from eating with members of Congress as long as they are standing rather than sitting.

"I’m not asking people to take me on a leap of faith," she said. "I’m asking them to look at what I bring to this race, and what I will do as president."

She blamed President Bush and the, until recently, Republican-controlled Congress for obstructing change.

"But change never stops," she said. "Change is going to happen whether anybody does anything or not. The question is, is it the right kind of change. Is it positive change?"

Clinton implied that Obama’s career has mostly been spent running for office rather than governing.

"He was a part-time state senator for a few years, and then he came to the Senate and immediately started running for president," she said. "And that’s his prerogative. That’s his right. But I think it is important to compare and contrast our records."

Clinton, who voted to authorize the war in Iraq and now vows to end it, criticized Obama for saying he opposed the war but then voted to fund it.

The specter hanging over Clinton’s visit Thursday was the Culinary union, which endorsed Obama on Wednesday. The powerful union of Strip workers, of which both Santana parents are members, cited Obama’s walking of picket lines and work as an organizer as an example of doing rather than talking.

Clinton said that rationale sounded more like a case for John Edwards, who "certainly has walked picket lines and has been with them organizing." She said her labor record is as strong as anyone’s.

"I’ve been on picket lines, I’ve visited picket lines. I’ve taken coffee to people on picket lines," she said. "But can I just say something? A president has to change the laws so that people have the right to organize and bargain collectively. And a president has to be judged, in my view, on the kind of positive results you can get on behalf of labor," such as the recent increase in the minimum wage.

Asked whether she had the power to inspire people, Clinton said, "I’ve inspired lots of people to get involved in these elections who’ve never been involved before. I feel very proud of the inspiration that I am. People tell me all the time that I’m a role model, I’m their hero; and I’m very proud of that. But you know, when the cameras go away, when the reporters finally get to go home, when the lights are down, what matters is who the leader really is. And we face a lot of problems in our country that are not going to be solved by a speech, no matter how eloquent or passionately delivered."

In the restaurant’s foyer, Ruben Beltran, 53, was carryng a "Culinary Workers for Hillary" sign. He didn’t know where it came from; someone had given it to him.

Beltran said he was not worried about going against his union leadership.

"People know that Hillary is the best choice for real," he said. "They try to confuse the workers, but the workers are smarter."

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2919.

News Videos
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students.
Educators dressed in red have taken to the streets to demand more for their students. Educators from around the State are bringing the Red for Ed movement to the steps of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, NV, and to the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Nature Conservancy Ranch
The Nature Conservancy just bought the 900-acre 7J Ranch at the headwaters of the Amargosa River, north of Beatty. The property could become a research station, though ranching will continue.
Swift water rescue at Durango Wash in Las Vegas
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, at approximately 8:42 a.m., the Clark County Fire Department responded to a report of a swift water incident where people were trapped in the Durango wash which is located near 8771 Halcon Ave. Personnel found one person who was trapped in the flood channel. The individual was transported to the hospital in stable condition. Video by Clark County Fire & Rescue.
Flooding at E Cheyenne in N. Las Vegas Blvd.
Quick Weather Around the Strip
Rain hits Las Vegas, but that doesn't stop people from heading out to the Strip. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries
Aaron Semas, professional bull rider, talks about his traumatic brain injuries. The Cleveland Clinic will begin researching the brains of retired bull riders to understand the impact traumatic brain injuries have on cognition. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Matt Stutzman shoots arrows with his feet
Matt Stutzman who was born without arms shoots arrows with his feet and hits the bullseye with remarkable accuracy. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Secretary of Air Force Emphasizes the Importance of Nellis AFB
US Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Nellis Air Force Base during Red Flag training and described how important the base is to the military.
Former Northwest Academy student speaks out
Tanner Reynolds, 13, with his mother Angela McDonald, speaks out on his experience as a former student of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff member Caleb Michael Hill. Hill, 29, was arrested Jan. 29 by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of child abuse.
Former Northwest Academy students speak out
Tristan Groom, 15, and his brother Jade Gaastra, 23, speak out on their experiences as former students of Northwest Academy in Amargosa Valley, which includes abuse by staff and excessive medication.
Disruption At Metro PD OIS Presser
A man claiming to be part of the press refused to leave a press conference at Metro police headquarters, Wednesday January 30, 2019. Officers were forced to physically remove the man. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience
Clients at Las Vegas’ Homeless Courtyard talk about their experience after the city began operating around the clock. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas parts ways with operator of homeless courtyard
Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher discusses the transition between operators of the homeless courtyard in Las Vegas, Thursday Jan. 24, 2019.(Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
North Las Vegas police chief discusses officer-involved shooting
North Las Vegas police chief Pamela Ojeda held a press conference Thursday, Jan. 24, regarding an officer-involved shooting that took place on Jan. 21. The incident resulted in the killing of suspect Horacio Ruiz-Rodriguez. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteers gather for annual Clark County homeless count
Volunteers gather for the annual Southern Nevada Homeless Census, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
TOP NEWS
Home Front Page Footer Listing