Nevadans still back Clinton

Don’t look for Rep. Shelley Berkley or state Sen. Dina Titus to push Hillary Clinton out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

The two Nevada Democratic superdelegates pledged to Clinton are staying put for the time being, they said last week in separate interviews.

Berkley said she sees little hope that Clinton can forge a way to victory. But she said Clinton should have every right to decide whether or when to withdraw.

“She has had her whole life wrapped up in this election,” Berkley said. “She is entitled to decide when and if to get out of the race without me prompting her.”

Titus voiced a similar sentiment.

“I’m like everybody. I worry that it’s gone on too long. I worry about the party beating itself up too long,” Titus said. “But it has to play out for the next three weeks, or we’ll be attacked for not letting everyone have their voice. So we’ll see what happens in the next three weeks, and then we’ll start building and coming together.”

Clinton says she’s still in, but many have been writing her campaign obituary since she lost North Carolina and won narrowly in Indiana last week.

“As long as she keeps fighting, that’s where I’m going to leave my loyalties,” Titus said. “She’s a fighter. She’s not a quitter, and I don’t go back on my commitments. As soon as it’s over, if she’s not the nominee, I look forward to being a strong voice for Barack Obama.”

Two Nevada superdelegates are committed to Obama, while four more are uncommitted. One of those, state party Chairman Sam Lieberman, said last week he was going to maintain his neutrality and focus on campaigning against presumptive Republican nominee John McCain instead.

CONGRESSIONAL RACE UPDATE

Titus reports that her newly launched campaign for Congress is “going great.”

“We’re spending a lot of time on the phone trying to raise money,” she said.

Former candidate Robert Daskas, who dropped out with little explanation last month, has been returning his extra campaign cash and asking the donors, who gave him more than $500,000, to give to Titus instead, she said.

Titus plans a grand opening May 31 of her headquarters. This week, she’ll be attending a fundraiser party in San Francisco hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and a trip to Washington is in the works soon as well.

Titus plans to officially file her candidacy Tuesday with the Clark County Election Department. The incumbent she is trying to uproot, Rep. Jon Porter, was scheduled to file this morning .

Titus also is interviewing campaign staffers and hopes to have her team assembled this week.

Berkley seconded the notion that things are going well for Titus, despite her late entry in the race.

“I think it’s her time,” Berkley said.

Berkley said Titus got standing ovations at two events in Nevada in the past week. She said Titus’ loss to Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2006 would actually help her, given the poor marks the governor’s performance has been getting.

“I think there is a great deal of buyer’s remorse in Southern Nevada among those who didn’t support Dina. … They may want to express that buyer’s remorse by supporting her now.”

As for Daskas, the political scene has moved along as though he was never there, and so has his life. The Clark County District Attorney’s office, which he left in October, has taken him back, starting today, to prosecute murder cases.

Daskas last week still didn’t want to talk about the circumstances surrounding his withdrawal. He expressed gratitude to the many Democrats who had pinned their hopes on him.

“I’m forever indebted to everyone who supported me,” he said. “I can’t thank all of them enough. I’m humbled by all their support. I have no doubt Senator Titus will win.”

CONVENTION UPDATE

Titus is one of eight Nevada superdelegates. But the bulk of Nevada’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention will be elected this weekend in Reno at the state Democratic convention.

With the nomination still contested, the party expects high attendance at the Grand Sierra Resort.

State party officials are working with the Democratic National Committee on a plan to elect the 25 elected delegates to the national convention in Denver in August. It’s complicated enough trying to hold such an election, but the delegates are also divided up by congressional district and subject to gender and diversity requirements.

The keynote speaker for Saturday is Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, an organization of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The Clinton and Obama campaigns have been invited to send speakers on the candidates’ behalf. Also speaking will be Berkley, Titus, congressional candidate Jill Derby and Sen. Harry Reid, who will sign copies of his new book.

The Republicans were supposed to have their convention over with by now, but they are still trying to figure out how to finish the delegate selection that was put on hold when time ran out on April 26.

Party rules dictate that the convention’s continuance must be held outside Clark County and must reach a quorum of 675, which is half plus one of the 1,347 delegates who attended. The party has been scouting locations and dates, “looking just about everywhere we can to find a facility that will house us in addition to being relatively cost effective,” Executive Director Zac Moyle said.

Options such as teleconferencing and mail balloting haven’t been ruled out. The deadline to get the delegates elected is 30 days before the Republican National Convention, scheduled for early September in St. Paul, Minn.

“Our hope is the same as it’s always been, to bring the party together to support John McCain and get excited about the general election,” Moyle said.

Speaking of McCain, he is scheduled to be in Reno later this month. Sources said he’ll do both a public event and a fundraiser on May 28.

FLAT HARRY

Sen. Harry Reid said he was not trying to be funny on “The Daily Show.” That might explain the Senate majority leader’s rather flat interview last Monday with comedian host Jon Stewart.

On the Huffington Post, blogger M.S. Bellows Jr. wrote Reid’s interview was “utterly lackluster.” Closer to home, “Ouch” was the headline on a report by Steve Sebelius in Las Vegas CityLife.

Reid’s style of funny is sharp but dry. He generally avoids the talk circuit, let alone a “fake news” program whose humor is cynical and highly irreverent. But to promote his autobiography, “The Good Fight,” he flew to New York for the show that is popular among young people and hip political junkies.

The segment can be viewed at: www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=167644&title=senator-harry-reid

Reid will sign copies of the book at $12:30 p.m. May 27 at the Barnes & Noble store at 8915 W. Charleston Blvd.

Reid said he was not about to take on Stewart at his mock news desk.

“Once the decision was made that I was going to go on the show, I just said the only thing I can try to do is not try to be funny, just try to answer his questions and kind of be his straight guy, and that is what I did.

“People who work with (Stewart) told me he was expecting me to be very feisty and to argue with him, but I was not going to do that.”

Stewart joked during the interview that although Reid has a reputation for toughness, “as I look across from you, I feel like I could filibuster this man. Is that possible?”

“Everyone else has; you might as well,” was Reid’s comeback.

Reid said wife Landra “was certainly more worried than I was.” Stewart, he said, “was nice to me on the air and off the air.”

Reid said he counted the episode as a one-and-done life experience. “I have been to one Super Bowl, one World Series, one Kentucky Derby. Once was enough.”

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

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