U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren guided a receptive east Las Vegas audience through a river of planned political, economic and social reforms at a town hall meeting Tuesday evening, as she steered her 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign back to Nevada this week.
The Massachusetts senator’s campaign staff estimated that 600 people attended the hourlong event at the East Las Vegas Community Center, where parking spaces outside the venue and chairs within quickly became scarce as she dove into more than a dozen prevailing issues.
Most of her opening remarks were similar to those at previous Nevada visits, including calls for a $15 minimum wage and a wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million that will be used to fund free universal child care, preschool, college tuition and student loan forgiveness.
“Why is it that for people who work every bit as hard as my mother worked a generation ago – today the path is so much rockier and steeper, and for people of color, even rockier and steeper?” Warren asked to sweeping applause.
She said the answer lies in the fact that government now works for giant corporations, not for the typical family of three for which the minimum wage was originally set to support.
Warren also called for meeting government corruption “head on” and “straight down the middle” by ending all lobbying, blocking Wall Street interests from Washington, D.C., increasing ethics enforcement for the Supreme Court and forcing every person to first release their tax returns before seeking federal office.
She also took a few questions from the audience, one of which centered on whether she supported a House proposal to study the possibility of reparations for African-Americans as a way to lift communities of color.
Warren’s more than eight-minute answer touched on everything from gun control to a truncated history of housing discrimination, both overt and covert, before weaving back to her support for such a study.
“Let’s start as Americans saying we acknowledge our history, and we’re ready to have a healing conversation,” Warren said.
The Las Vegas stop and a planned event in Reno on Wednesday come just after a week that elevated Warren’s political profile, as she was among the 20 presidential hopefuls to take part in the Democratic party’s first national debate. She has consistently polled in the top five of the large potential challenger pool.
For several of Tuesday’s attendees, Warren’s debate performance helped seal their support.
Pat Mills, a Las Vegas resident, said she has long favored progressive politicians, having backed Ralph Nader in previous elections.
“I was for (Vermont Senator) Bernie (Sanders) before, but I think she is more realistic,” Mills said.
Warren’s debate performance, coupled with her proposals to cut the money out of politics and help the environment, have made Mills a firm Warren supporter, she said.
Brittany Carlton, an east Las Vegas resident until just recently, flew back to town from Ohio to attend Warren’s event.
“I was satisfied with my decision,” she said. “I think I teared up four times. I am team Warren all the way.”
Carlton said Warren “was her favorite candidate in the debate by far.” Warren’s stance on student loan forgiveness was a major pull for Carlton, as she still owes $60,000 in loans almost 10 years after her graduation.
“Between me and my husband, it’s $560 in (monthly) student loan payments,” Carlton said. “it’s kind of hard to plan for the future with that.”