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In Las Vegas, Joe Biden implores Nevadans to vote Democrat

Updated October 20, 2018 - 8:36 pm

In between the blaring trumpets from a mariachi band and chants from union workers, former Vice President Joe Biden took the stage Saturday in Las Vegas to fire up voters on the first day Nevadans could cast ballots for the Nov. 6 election.

“This election is literally bigger than politics,” Biden told the crowd at the Nevada State Democratic Party rally. “No matter how old or young you are, you never have participated in an election that is as consequential as this election, nationally and locally.”

Biden said electing a slate of Nevada Democrats to Congress, which could shift power from Republicans, will be critical in holding President Donald Trump accountable.

Trump is undermining America’s reputation worldwide, Biden said, and “shredding” the country’s basic fundamental of decency.

Biden, expected to be a 2020 presidential candidate, told the crowd at the Culinary Union’s headquarters that Washington Republicans are choosing their party over their country.

But if Democrats can win control of the House and Senate, Biden said, many GOP lawmakers will start “voting their conscience when they know it can matter.”

“They don’t want to be the only guy out there on that deciding vote,” Biden said. “But if they know there’s consensus in the body to do the right thing, they will join.”

Nevada has several races that could play into which party controls Congress. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen is hoping to replace GOP Sen. Dean Heller, and Steven Horsford and Susie Lee are vying for open House seats.

Kristin von Hahn and her husband, Douglas Coutts, traveled from Washington to campaign for Rosen. They’ve knocked on 200 doors, even though she’s a Canadian citizen and can’t vote in the United States.

“A lot of people say, ‘What difference can I make?’ but you can make a difference in tight races,” she said. “You can’t be immune to the decisions that the American government makes. The policies America makes affect the world.”

In addition to Rosen, Horsford and Lee, candidates at the rally included U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, governor candidate Steve Sisolak, secretary of state candidate Nelson Araujo, treasurer Zach Conine and lieutenant governor candidate Kate Marshall.

Comedian Billy Eichner, who has campaigned around the country in an effort to turn out young voters, cracked jokes while delivering a serious message: Millennials have a lower turnout rate than any generation of young people before them.

“They don’t think they can effect change by voting,” Eichner said. “We have 2½ weeks to tell them respectfully that they’re dead wrong.”

Biden said Republicans are attacking health care because “that’s where the money is” and that the GOP tax plan adds $1.8 trillion to the national debt.

The Republican National Committee scoffed at Biden’s claims and downplayed the effect his presence in Las Vegas will have on voters in Nevada.

“While Biden was attempting to gin up support for an unhinged and steadily unraveling Democratic Party, Republicans were rallying behind our president and our proven Republican leaders who fought hard to put our state and nation back to work,” RNC spokeswoman Keelie Broom said. “Biden’s rallying cries are sure to fall on deaf ears as Nevadans head out to the polls to defy history and turn Nevada completely red in November.”

Biden also said Trump’s attacks on immigrants are a conscious effort to divide the country — and that the world is wondering “what the hell is going on?”

“The president stands up for the whole world to see, standing next to Vladimir Putin, who I know well,” Biden said. “He is a thug. No, no, no. He’s a dictator and a thug. And he stands there, and he takes Putin’s word before he takes the word of [his] own intelligence community.”

Retired bartender Jim Vignale, 70, said he’s most concerned about Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Vignale attended 20 political rallies with his wife of 44 years — before she died in February.

The Biden rally Saturday was the first without her.

“I want to make sure we have a blue wave,” said Vignale, a retired casino worker. “I’m skeptical about the blue wave, but I hope it happens because there needs to be a check on this president.”

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

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