Excerpted and edited from The Washington Post (January 6, 2016):
In Las Vegas, Nevada the room vibrated with the sound of screams and noisemakers that are probably more at home on a soccer field than at the ballroom of the MGM Grand. Supporters revved up their engines as they waited for Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders to speak, cheering for their candidates — and even booing their rivals on occasion. But it was the Sanders boosters who were loudest.
As Hillary spoke, the crowd remained divided. Sanders supporters shuffled their seats, others raised their signs and at times grumbled vocally. At one point, campaign organizers walked through the aisles gesturing with a finger to the mouth that supporters should express their disagreement with Clinton silently. [Even though Hillary herself has always said: "I will not be silenced!"]
The Feb. 20 caucuses are not just the first primary contest in the West — following closely on the heels of the first two nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire. But Nevada is also a state where a show of strength for Clinton could effectively dash Sanders’s hopes of winning the nomination even if he has a stronger than expected showing in Iowa, or wins in New Hampshire.
Sanders used his remarks to try to make the case that he could energize more voters in the fall, citing the large turnouts he’s had at his campaign rallies, particularly among younger voters. Whereas, Clinton took a shot at Sanders’s proposed college affordability plan, which would make tuition free at public universities and colleges for all students, saying that taxpayers shouldn’t “pay for Donald Trump’s kids to go to college for free.” [But such a program could be "means-tested — and rich people like Trump wouldn't be sending their kids to public community colleges anyway.]
Sanders also recapped some of his plans to reform Wall Street, which he laid out in a speech Tuesday in New York. Among the central thrusts of his plan is breaking up banks deemed “too big to fail.” He also supports the reinstatement of a modern Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial banking, investment banking and insurance services — a move Clinton has not embraced. [See my post: Gordon Gekko Endorsed Hillary Clinton]
Excerpted and edited from The Guardian (January 6, 2016):
As "Born in the USA" played for the candidates, the chants of Sanders’ supporters drowned out all the others. In front of a raucous crowd of 2,200 people at a caucus dinner, the three candidates had addressed their core policy ideas in speeches.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters were by far the noisiest and most vocally enthusiastic, long before the candidates emerged, when chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” went up several times. But just a small coterie held aloft a pathetic rainbow "H" for Hillary. That lukewarm support for her could signal a problem for Clinton, in a state which she had previously thought was relatively safe.
In an unprovoked attack on Bernie, Hillary said in her speech that Americans deserved “a president who can get the job done … and not just on a few issues, but on all the problems we face. If the Republicans aren’t worried about me, then why are hedge fund billionaires already running ads against me? Why are the Koch brothers?”
Sanders struck back at Clinton, albeit obliquely, in a speech that otherwise strayed little from his usual core theme of income inequality and social justice.
The gulf between the Sanders and Clinton support was very visible. While the one spoke, the other’s supporters sat in near silence, Clinton’s camp stage right, Sanders’ stage left.
Excerpted and edited from Politico (January 6, 2016):
Eight years ago, Nevada was also supposed to be Clinton’s firewall against Barack Obama. She won the popular vote here 51 percent to 45 percent, but Obama ended up taking home more delegates than Clinton and tainted what was supposed to have been a clean win for her.
Now, it is Sanders who is proving resilient as all three Democratic candidates descended on the MGM casino Wednesday night for a state party caucus dinner hosted by Sen. Harry Reid.
In recent days, Sanders has won over some of Clinton’s most stalwart supporters in the state. Erin Bilbray (a woman), a member of the Democratic National Committee from Nevada who was so loyal to Clinton in 2008 that she refused to support Obama at the convention, has endorsed the Vermont senator.
Bilbray said in October she was planning to support Clinton. But she changed her mind after a friend dragged her to an organizing meeting hosted by the Sanders campaign. “I started getting more and more excited as I was watching his volunteers, how organized they were, how in the trenches they were,” she said. “His supporters here are passionate. The situation with super PACs and unregulated money is the biggest concern for the future of democracy in this country and Bernie is the only candidate addressing it.”
She said the Clinton campaign wrote her a cordial note after she switched allegiances. “When I hosted Bernie at my house last week, I called friends who I was positive were Clinton supporters only to find out they liked Bernie, but just didn’t think he had a chance to win,” Bilbray said. “Here in Nevada, I think I gave people permission to support what they cared about. When you give people the power to fight for you,” Bilbray said, “they will fight for you and that’s what I've seen from the Sanders campaign.”
Sanders’ top strategist, Tad Devine, said of a strong showing in Nevada: “I think it’s the beginning of the explosion of the myth that Bernie has a limited appeal and he’s a one-state wonder,” “If we do well, a lot of doors open very quickly.
The powerful local Culinary Union that represents 60,000 members is expected to remain neutral and offer no endorsement until after the caucuses. That's in stark contrast to 2008, when the union had already backed Obama three weeks before the caucuses.
You might have to be rich to vote in the Iowa primary: It will cost you an arm and a leg to stay in downtown Des Moines on caucus night — if you can find a room, that is. Some standard rooms have gone for as much as $900 a night during the week leading up to Feb. 1, when Iowa hosts the first-in-the-nation caucus.
Elizabeth Warren praised Sanders' Wall St. speech: Though she has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday offered some strong praise for Bernie Sanders."I'm glad @BernieSanders is out there fighting to hold big banks accountable, make our economy safer, & stop the GOP from rigging the system," she tweeted.