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Democratic candidates barnstorm Nevada ahead of caucuses

Updated February 17, 2020 - 10:30 pm

Top candidates for the Democratic nomination for president campaigned around Nevada on Monday, as party members cast early votes ahead of Saturday’s official caucuses.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made their closing pitches in a busy week for candidates.

Warren is trying to drum up enthusiasm about her campaign after finishing fourth in the New Hampshire primary. Her rally drew about 400 people to the student union of the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus.

Rhonda Glaze, a staunch Warren supporter, said she is not worried about the senator’s performance in New Hampshire. Glaze said she intends to select Warren as her top choice when she casts her vote Tuesday, the final day of early voting.

After her event in Henderson, Warren looked to gain union support at the SEIU Local 1107 building in Las Vegas.

“When we have unions, working people do better,” she told the group of union members.

Warren’s stop was enough to sway Tima Prieto, a member of the SEIU, to cast an early vote for her. Prieto said she was holding off on casting a vote until she heard from the senator.

“She didn’t divert from the questions,” Prieto said. “She was direct. She has a plan.”

Warren spoke later in the evening to about 100 people inside a Cardenas Market in eastern Las Vegas for an event put on by Mi Familia Vota.

Introduced by adviser Julian Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Warren catered her message to how her presidency would help the Latino community.

With a cracked voice as she dealt with a cold, Warren said she would hire Latinos and Latinas to her Cabinet, roll back the filibuster to get immigration reform through the Senate and push for many criminal justice reforms.

“We need to spend less money locking people up and more money lifting people up,” she said.

Legitimate question

Appearing at a middle school in Reno, Biden fielded a few questions from supporters after delivering his basic stump speech to a crowd of several hundred. He drew praise from a man who then asked why his campaign was not doing better.

“You complimented me very highly and then said what the hell’s the matter with your campaign,” Biden joked. “It’s a legitimate question.”

Biden said he anticipated an also-ran showing in Iowa, a predominantly white state, adding that he had “overwhelming support” among African Americans and other minorities, and among working-class white people who defected from the Democrats to vote for President Trump in 2016.

“I think that we’re now just getting into the deal,” Biden said. “Bill Clinton lost 12 primaries before he won one and became the nominee for president. I’m not counting on waiting that long. But all kidding aside, I think we’re just getting there. We’ve had less than 2 percent of the vote taken so far. And now we’re here in Nevada, and it’s going to be up to you to decide how many of us move on.”

Strength and vision

Buttigieg made his final push through Northern Nevada as he hopes to keep the momentum built through strong showings in the first two early states.

Buttigieg said that performance “demonstrates that our campaign has the strength, the organization and the vision to put together the movement that will defeat Donald Trump.”

He made three stops Monday, a town hall with veterans in Reno, a stump at Western Nevada College in Carson City and a get-out-to-caucus event in Elko. The campaign has no more events planned in Northern Nevada between now and the caucuses on Saturday.

In an interview with the Review-Journal, Buttigieg said he believes his message of inclusion will be one that will resonate even more in Nevada because of the state’s diversity.

“In a racially diverse state like Nevada., it is especially important for us to now be broadening that coalition that we built in those first two states, and I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to engage with voters here in Nevada who just have a different take than some in the other early states,” he said. “I think here will be a chance to demonstrate in an even greater way what our campaign can do to bring people together and move forward.”

Buttigieg highlighted his affordable housing plan, an issue that resonates in Nevada, one of the states hardest hit by the Great Recession. It’s an issue that’s again at the forefront for many Nevadans, especially those in the Reno area, where the median home price ticked up to $430,000 last month.

“Housing is a concern across the country, but in particular something I’m hearing about from Nevadans,” Buttigieg said.

His plan calls for a 50 percent increase over five years to federal funding for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to boost new affordable housing across the country. In Nevada, roughly 95 percent of affordable housing is built through those tax credits.

Contact Colton Lochhead at CLochhead@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Bill Dentzer at BDentzer@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Shea Johnson and Blake Apgar contributed to this story.

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