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Nevada is a battleground state, and the war for votes is escalating.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama returned to Las Vegas on Saturday, and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin drew about 7,000 enthusiastic supporters during a rally Tuesday in Henderson.

Two days before that, former President Bill Clinton was in town stumping for Obama; and two days before that, Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Biden made a stop in Henderson.

The bombardment isn’t about to end either, not with early voting now under way and less than two weeks left before Election Day.

Obama’s wife, Michelle, is slated to speak in Las Vegas on Monday.

MONDAY

HAIL TO THE BUS DRIVER

A bus driver was being hailed as a hero after he found kidnapped 6-year-old Cole Puffinburger.

Bus driver Julio Diaz noticed the boy alone on a sidewalk late on Oct. 18 near Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway.

Diaz stopped to pick up Cole, who was unharmed but lost after being released by his captors.

Clemens Tinnemeyer, Cole’s maternal grandfather, is being held on a federal material witness warrant in connection with the boy’s kidnapping.

Las Vegas police believe the abduction was meant to send a message to Tinnemeyer for stealing millions of dollars from drug dealers.

TUESDAY

MAULING PROBE CLOSED

Prosecutors opted against pressing charges in the case of the 4-month-old girl who was mauled to death by her family’s two pit bulls last month.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said his office could find no evidence that family members of Cenedi Kia Carey intentionally placed her in harm’s way. The dogs had never been deemed vicious.

WEDNESDAY

DEMOCRATS TURN OUT

More than twice as many Democrats as Republicans cast ballots during the first four days of early voting in Nevada.

According to numbers released at the close of voting Tuesday in Clark and Washoe counties, nearly 65,000 Democrats went to the polls versus just over 30,000 Republicans.

THURSDAY

‘IN THE TOILET’

Southern Nevada’s housing market is “in the toilet” and has yet to hit the bottom of the bowl, industry experts said.

The bleak assessment came during the Crystal Ball housing outlook meeting, a quarterly get-together of local home builders, real estate brokers and marketing consultants.

FRIDAY

PROGRAM CLOSING

Four months after becoming the state’s only kidney transplant program, University Medical Center has been stripped of that privilege, leaving in doubt where more than 200 Nevadans awaiting kidney transplants might go for their procedures.

UMC was notified by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that its certification for the transplant center will be revoked effective Dec. 3.

“The hospital hasn’t done what it needs to do to address its quality of care problems,” CMS regional spokesman Jack Cheevers said.

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