weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Heller says election dynamics will change, Trump will lose

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller made a prediction on Monday: GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump won’t be the Republican nominee for president.

The Nevada Republican spoke on Monday at the “2016 Pregame,” an event organized by The Washington Post to preview the GOP debate that unfolds Tuesday in Las Vegas.

About 200 people attended the event at the MGM Grand. Heller answered questions from Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

Asked if he would support the GOP nominee, Heller said, “I will support the nominee of our party, some a little more enthusiastically than others.”

Of Trump, Heller added: “He will not be the nominee for the Republican Party, I can tell you that right now.”

Trump has seized the lion’s share of attention in the campaign, continuing to be the front-runner among GOP candidates in the polls, despite controversial statements about undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims entry into the U.S.

The billionaire businessman began his campaign with widespread name recognition, in part due to his role on the NBC reality show “The Apprentice.”

“America loves reality shows and that’s where we are right now — reality politics,” Heller said.

“We’re digging ourselves in a very, very deep hole,” he said, noting that Trump’s statements create problems for others, including Republicans running for Senate.

He said he believes that after the holidays the dynamics of the election will change, as it gets closer to the Nevada GOP caucus.

Heller said he believes the average Nevada voter is not paying attention at this point to Trump’s race and that it will be a “completely different conversation” in February when the early voting starts.

Heller, who is supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the presidential election, isn’t running for re-election in 2016.

He was elected to the Senate in 2012, the same year GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost Nevada in the election to President Barack Obama.

After winning, Heller said he got a call from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and the two went out to dinner. Cruz’s interest was in Heller’s success in Nevada.

“Ted Cruz wanted to know how I did it,” Heller said, noting it was Cruz, not officials with the Republican National Committee, asking about Nevada.

Nevada is a crucial early state in the presidential nomination process, with February caucuses that will play a role in determining who gets the Republican and Democratic nominations.

After that dinner, Cruz went on to announce his run for president and take the debate stage.

On Bush, Heller said there’s no reason for Bush to drop out of the race, noting that he was likely the “most conservative governor in the country” when in office.

Bush has struggled to gain traction in the polls, placing behind other candidates, including Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Heller will become the Silver State’s senior senator with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reid, also the Senate minority leader, isn’t running for re-election in 2016. Heller said the two have their differences, but get along.

The event also had a panel discussion moderated by Post chief correspondent Dan Balz and featuring Hugh Hewitt, a talk show host; Frank Luntz, a pundit and chief executive of Luntz Global Partners; and Democratic strategist Rebecca Lambe.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Week in Pictures: April 28-May4

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival, Pirate Fest, weather and Canelo vs. Jacobs. Children play inside a hot air balloon provided by Las Vegas Balloon Rides during the Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival on Saturday, May 4, […]

Week in Pictures: April 21-April 27

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs, Raiders draft and WBA lightweight championship bout. The Meadows School third baseman Sam Kaplan looks in a high ground ball during fielding practice, he will play at Cornell University next year on Wednesday, April 24, […]

Week in Pictures: April 14-April 20

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs and Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. The Pink Moon, the nickname for April’s full moon, is not pink at all but yellow and sets in the west behind the Raiders Stadium early on Friday, April […]

Week in Pictures: March 17-March 23

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Vegas Golden Knights, Cesar Chavez Day festival, prep baseball and El Cortez shooting. Brooklyn Ruiz, 10, center, of Redlands, Calif., jumps out of the pool while playing with her cousin, Analyce Lopez, 11, of Redlands, Calif., left, and […]

Week in Pictures: March 10-March 16

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including the West Coast Conference tournament, the Mountain West tournament and the Pac-12 tournament. The Stanford Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Oregon Ducks during a NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at the […]

Week in Pictures: Jan. 14-20

Take a look at some striking pictures from Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including weather features, a boxing match and the super blood wolf moon. Ronald Holmes plays the alto saxophone on The Strip as dark clouds move in on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. Clouds, rain and snow are expected in […]

7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]