weather icon Mostly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Obama urges Democrats to ‘fight … to save democracy’ in North Las Vegas

Updated November 3, 2022 - 10:20 am

Former President Barack Obama called on Nevadans to unite, reject political division and to vote Democrat up and down the ballot Tuesday night at a crowded Cheyenne High School auditorium with one week to go until the 2022 midterms.

“Tuning out is not an option. Moping and feeling cynical is not an option. The only way to make this economy fair is if we, all of us, fight for it. The only way to save democracy is if we, together, vote for it,” Obama told the crowd at the North Las Vegas school.

All eyes are on Nevada’s U.S. Senate race, which could determine party control of the Senate, as well as the governor’s race, House races and more.

In the first of two weeks of early voting, 119,282 Democrats cast their ballots compared to 110,101 Republicans, which is about a 3.1 percentage point lead for Democrats. But Republicans, who have expressed trepidations about mail-in voting, are more likely to wait until Election Day to cast their votes.

Obama said the pandemic highlighted — and in some cases made worse — problems that the country has faced for years.

Obama spoke about division in the U.S. and an increase in violent rhetoric, urging people to reject rhetoric that targets certain groups, such as immigrants, LGBTQ people and Muslims

“When you see something on the internet that says those people are the cause of your problems, that is a dangerous lie,” Obama said.

Obama said Republicans talk a lot about the problems but do not offer solutions, and he pointed to Democrats’ actions, such as pushing for gun legislation and taking on drug companies to lower prices.

‘You don’t take your ball and go home’

He also criticized the rise of Republicans not accepting election results when they lose. He mentioned how late Sen. John McCain “graciously conceded” when Obama won in 2008. And when Obama lost his congressional race in 2000, he thought about what he could do better.

“If you don’t get your way, you don’t take your ball and go home or have a tantrum. You get over it and try to be better next time,” Obama said.

Obama said Democrats will protect people’s decisions on when to start a family and said Republicans down the road could ban abortion nationwide. He mentioned Republican gubernatorial hopeful Joe Lombardo’s flip-flopping abortion stances.

“Abortion is controversial in this country, has been for a long time, and I genuinely believe there are good people of conscience who may differ from me on the issue. But we should all agree that women everywhere should be able to control what happens to their own bodies,” Obama said.

“We could go backwards,” Obama said, warning that same-sex marriage and contraception could be at risk as well.

He said Democratic Senate incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto is a champion of women’s health and will make sure women have access to the care that they need.

Although he co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act when serving as a U.S. senator from Illinois, and said while running for president that he would sign such a bill if elected, Obama later said the abortion-rights legislation wasn’t his “highest legislative priority.” The bill has never been approved by Congress, despite being introduced multiple times over the years.

Cortez Masto also hit on abortion at the rally, saying her opponent Adam Laxalt will not protect women’s right to choose and would call for a federal abortion ban if elected. Laxalt previously said that it is false that he would support a national abortion ban.

“I will always stand up to protect the right of women to make their own health care decisions,” Cortez Masto said.

She spoke about her accomplishments, such as “taking on big pharma” and capping the cost of insulin at $35.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, in a tight race with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for his post, described Nevada’s recovery from the pandemic, with the state’s employment reaching an “all-time high” and children back in school.

With races “razor thin,” Sisolak asked the crowd whether they voted already, and most had raised their hands. Sisolak urged them to get others out to the polls.

“We made a lot of progress in the last four years, folks. We’ve taken a lot of steps forward. We cannot afford to go backward,” Sisolak said.

GOP: Visit reeks of desperation

Democrats down the ballot spoke before Obama’s speech, the incumbents talking about their accomplishments and the hopefuls about their goals. Dolores Huerta, an American labor leader and co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association and singer John Legend joined the rally.

Republican National Committee Spokesperson Hallie Balch said in a statement that Obama’s visit “this late in the game” shows Democrats are desperate.

“Silver State Democrats know that they’re about to be out of a job and his presence makes it clear that they are running scared in the final days of their doomed campaigns,” Balch said in the statement.

Former Attorney General and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Laxalt’s campaign criticized Cortez Masto for campaigning with Legend, describing him as an “anti-police activist.”

Legend had called for “significantly fewer police” and said governments “spend far too much on policing” on Twitter. He also signed a letter urging local governments to decrease police budgets to spend more on social work, health care, education and other community programs, according to RollingStone.

“This is another example of the far-left’s rubber stamp in the Senate, Catherine Cortez Masto, telling Nevadans one thing and then doing something entirely different. Her decision to campaign with someone who has spouted so much hatred against police officers is reprehensible,” Laxalt said in a statement.

Lombardo’s spokesperson Elizabeth Ray said in a statement that Sisolak would rather “campaign with Californians and out-of-state politicians than fix the pressing issues facing Nevada.

“Nevadans are sick and tired of Sisolak’s constant catering to celebrities and political donors, and they’re excited to elect Sheriff Joe Lombardo and his new leadership next week,” Ray said in a statement.

Obama ended his speech rallying Nevadans to reject political division and unite.

“We’ve always had more in common than our politics and our politicians. … What unites us has always been stronger than what divides us,” Obama said.

Obama joined a long list of national politicians in Las Vegas leading up to the election, encouraging Democrats to vote. Last week Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., rallied young Nevadans to vote for Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and on Monday Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Mn., campaigned in Reno.

No plans have been made public for a visit from President Joe Biden ahead of the election, and it does not seem like Nevada Democrats are too keen on having him in Vegas. In an interview with NBC News, Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., who is facing a close election with Republican April Becker for District 3, would not say whether she would like to see the president campaign for the Democrats.

“If he chooses to come here we will have an event,” Lee said.


Email Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

An earlier version of this story misstated the status of the Freedom of Choice Act. The bill has never been approved by Congress.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.