Buttigieg Campaign Seeks Fixes After Identifying ‘Irregularities’ WithResults
The Buttigieig campaign says it has identified "irregularities" with the results from yesterday’s caucuses and is calling on the Nevada Democratic Party to release precinct-level data and correct any outstandingissues.
In a letter to state party Chair William McCurdy II last night, Michael Gaffney, the Buttigieg campaign’s director of national ballot access and delegates, says the “process of integrating early votes into the results of the in-person precinct caucuses was plagued with errors andinconsistencies."
“We received more than 200 incident reports [yesterday] from precincts around the state, including a few dozen related to how early vote factored into the in-person results,” Gaffneywrites.
“In numerous locations, the early vote totals were allocated to the wrong candidate,” according toGaffney.
For the first time, Nevada held four days of early caucusing. In the letter, Gaffney asks state party officials to release early vote and in-person vote totals by precinct, and to correct any outstanding errors from the second alignment — after voters re-sorted in the caucus process — identified by any campaign or the party itself while performing qualitycontrol.
In a statement, Molly Forgey, a spokesperson for the Nevada Democratic Party, said: “We laid out our early vote and Caucus Day processes step by step and we communicated these processes to all campaigns. We are continuing to verify and to report results. We never indicated we would release a separate breakdown of early vote and in-person attendees by precinct and will not change our reporting process now. As laid out in our recount guidance, there is a formal method for requesting a challenge ofresults.”
With 60% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., is in third place, with 15.3% of the vote. Former Vice President Joe Biden is in second, with 19.6%. Buttigieg’s campaign says its data shows a closer race forsecond.
“Given how close the race is between second and third place,” Gaffney writes, “we ask that you take these steps before releasing any finaldata.”
Trump: Sanders Likely To Be Democratic Nominee Unless ‘Cheated’ Out OfIt
As he was leaving the White House this morning, President Trump congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders on "a great win" in the Nevada Democraticcaucuses.
“Bernie is looking more and more like he’ll be the nominee unless they cheat him out of it,” the presidentsaid.
Trump was on his way to India for a two-day visit. He’ll meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, take part in trade talks, and attend a large stadiumrally.
Trump said he was not briefed on reports that Russia had sought to interfere in the Democratic primary to help the Sanderscampaign.
Trump accused House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of leaking the information. “They ought to investigate that,” Trumpsaid.
A committee official said Trump’s accusation was “categorically false” and accused the president of trying to divert attention away from his decision to fire Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, after a briefing to Congress on electionsecurity.
Schiff himself tweeted, “Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool noone.”
This story has been updated with comments from Schiff and a committeeofficial.
Sen. Bernie Sanders cited his Nevada victory as proof that his campaign is bringing together a coalition of voters representing a wide range ofdemographics.
“We have just put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition,” Sanders told supporters in San Antonio on Saturday. “No campaign has a grassroots movement like we do, which is another reason why we’re going to win thiselection.”
Sanders predicted he will win the primary in Texas on March 3 and go on to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. Sanders presented his platform as a direct contrast to PresidentTrump.
“The American people are sick and tired of a government which is based on greed, corruption and lies,” Sanders said. “They want administration that is based on the principles of justice. Economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmentaljustice.”
Buttigieg Warns Against Sanders As The DemocraticNominee
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg warned Democrats against nominating Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as their candidate to take on President Trump in the November presidential election after Sanders won the Nevadacaucuses.
“I congratulate Sen. Sanders on a strong showing today, knowing that we celebrate many of the same ideals. But before we rush to nominate Sen. Sanders in our one shot to take on this president, let us take a sober look at what is at stake for our party, for our values and for those with the most to lose,” Buttigieg toldsupporters.
“There is so much on the line. And one thing we know for sure is that we absolutely must defeat Donald Trump and everything that he represents in November,” hesaid.
Buttigieg said that Sanders “believes in an inflexible ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans” and that Democrats can choose between “either ideological purity or inclusivevictory.”
He also pointed out that his campaign is the only one to have beaten Sanders in any part of the country, a reference to the too-close-to-call results in Iowa, where Sanders and Buttigieg remain locked in a tightrace.
“This is our shot — our only shot — to beat Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said. “So I’m asking Americans to make sure we make the rightchoice.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is the projected winner of the Nevada caucuses, according to The AssociatedPress.
Sanders took an early lead in Nevada after winning the contest in New Hampshire last week. Sanders and former South Bend Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg nearly tied in Iowa where a chaotic vote-counting process has prevented The Associated Press from making a finaldetermination.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that his campaign is positioned for a comeback, after lackluster performance in the contests in Iowa and NewHampshire.
"Look, I know we don’t have the final results yet, but I feel really good," Biden told supporters in Las Vegas. "You put me in a position — the press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we’re alive and we’re coming back and we’re going towin."
Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz, tweeted Saturday that the campaign believes Biden will place second in Nevada based on its internal data and noted that according to entrance polls, Biden won the black vote, support from voters over the age of 65 and voters who oppose “Medicare forAll.”
"I think we’re going to go, we’re going to win in South Carolina and then Super Tuesday, and we are on our way," Bidensaid.
Klobuchar Says She Has ‘Exceeded Expectations’ InNevada
As results from Nevada’s caucuses rolled in, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told supporters gathered in Minneapolis that, once again, her campaign had outperformedexpectations.
"As usual, I think we have exceeded expectations,” she said. "A lot of people didn’t even think I’d still be standing at thispoint.”
At the time, with just 3% of precincts reporting, Klobuchar was in sixthplace.
During her remarks, she looked ahead to South Carolina — the next contest — and the glut of states that vote on Super Tuesday (March 3), including Minnesota. She noted that she and her husband, John Bessler, had voted early Saturday and urged voters across the state to do thesame.
Klobuchar said that she has the "toughness to beat Donald Trump" and that because of her supporters, "we have proved the naysayers wrong every singletime."
The mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, told NPR that she felt optimistic about Bernie Sanders’ performance Saturday in Nevada, saying she believes it bodes well for hiscampaign.
“There will no longer be that dialogue or that narrative that, ‘Nobody likes Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders is too radical, he’s not electable,’ ” Carmen Yulín Cruz, a national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, said in aninterview.
“He has [the] most popular vote in Iowa. He won New Hampshire. And it certainly looks like he’s going to have a great night,” Cruzsaid.
“It is an understanding that minority groups and Latino groups are not an asterisk on the conversation when it comes to Bernie Sanders,” Cruz said. “They are not going to be on the back burner just to be used as pawns in a chess game that is politicallymotivated.”
Nevada Caucuses End Without An Endorsement From Culinary WorkersUnion
Culinary Workers Union Local 226 chose not endorse a Democratic candidate ahead of Saturday’s caucuses despite its significant political influence in Nevada, saying it wanted its members to make their own decisions on theissues.
“We’re not endorsing anybody. We are endorsing our goals,” the union’s secretary-treasurer, Geoconda Argüello-Kline, told NPR. “We have a lot of goals — one of our goals was having immigration reform for 11 million people and looking for a candidate who is going to fight forthat.”
The Culinary Union sparred with the Sanders campaign last week after the union sent out flyers, emails and texts opposing “Medicare for All.” Argüello-Kline issued a statement saying the Sanders supporters “viciously attacked” union members.
Culinary Union 226 has 60,000 members in Reno and Las Vegas alone. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign had actively courted the union. Biden had previously secured a crucial labor endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has 300,000members.
Despite the Culinary Union declining to endorse, Biden thanked the group Saturday, claiming he had their support. “By the way, I heard that we probably did well with culinary workers, “ hesaid.
But as NPR’s Asma Khalid reported, Sanders was the overwhelming favorite at least at the Bellagio caucus site in Las Vegas, which many Culinary Union membersattended.
A little bit of desert rain can’t keep the voters away in Las Vegas. Caucus sites are forging ahead despite the downpour, according to Clark County Democratic Party Chair DonnaWest.
“People don’t come out a lot of the time when it rains here because our roads get very slick,” West told NPR. “They didn’t stay home today, and they certainly turned out with enthusiasm. Some were waiting at some locations for hours tovote.”
West said she was personally working the voter registration tables recently in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located. The feedback on the process was “phenomenally positive,” she said. “[They] had a good time, which is what we want people to do when they comecaucus."
West also noticed a large number of voters who were either registering for the first time or changing parties to vote asDemocrats.
“We had five Republicans switching parties and more than a dozen independents,” she said. “They found a candidate that spoke tothem.”
Nevada Debate May Have Been Too Little, Too Late ForWarren
Elizabeth Warren got a lot of attention for her debate performance Wednesday, and it appears to have resonated with a good chunk of Nevada Democrats. But it may have been too little, too late for the Massachusettssenator.
Entrance polls show she did about as well as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg with Nevada Democrats who decided in the last few days. Of that group, Sanders won 24%, Buttigieg 21%, and Warren20%.
But she did worse with those who decided earlier. The problem for Warren is some 75,000 people voted early. Even if turnout hits the record of nearly 120,000 from 2008, that means almost two-thirds of voters would have voted early. She has to hope for a very high turnout; still,, the entrance polls don’t show a huge surge forher.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is pledging to halt all deportations in his first 100 days in office if he is electedpresident.
"Vice President Biden is absolutely committed to a 100 day moratorium on any deportations of people already in the United States," the Biden campaign and the Latino Victory Fund said in a joint statement on Saturdayafternoon.
"The campaign and Latino Victory Fund stand fully together in this and in the mission to support immigrant communities and center all the issues important to Latinos at the heart of this movement as we work to send Donald Trump and his unmitigated assault on our national values packing,” the joint statementadds.
The stance is a shift for Biden, who has faced criticism on the trail for the Obama administration’s deportation policy while he was vicepresident.
The announcement comes the day that Nevada Democrats hold their caucuses to select their nominee. The contest there is the first one to take place in a state with a significant Hispanic population — Iowa and New Hampshire’s electorate was overwhelmingly white. California and Texas hold primaries on Super Tuesday on March 3, and both have large Latino votingblocks.
Early returns show Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with a lead in Nevada, but former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is doing well in some rural parts of thestate.
Layla Walz, mayor of the small northeast Nevada town of Wells, said voters in her region are looking for a candidate who can advocate forfarmers.
"That was one of the biggest factors, I think, in selecting Buttigieg, because we are heavy agriculture,” Walz told NPR. “Somebody who appeals to our needs and listens to our needs … that is superimportant for me and for myregion.”
Health Care Split Explains Moderate-ProgressiveDivide
More than 6 in 10 Nevada Democratic voters say they are in favor of replacing private health insurance with a government plan, according to entrance polls. When asked how they feel about replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone, 62% said they supported it, while 35% wereopposed.
Nothing has divided this Democratic presidential primary field quite like health care. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have argued in favor of “Medicare for All.” The more moderate candidates have argued against going that far but want a governmentoption.
That progressive-moderate split is reflected in the preferences of NevadaDemocrats.
Of those who support replacing private health insurance with a government plan, it was backers of Sanders at 49% and backers of Warren15%.
Of those who oppose it, it was backers of former Vice President Joe Biden at 27%, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg 24% and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar19%.
The majority support for Medicare for All among Nevada Democrats is reflective of party members nationally. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from December found 64% of Democrats were in favor of replacing private health insurance with a government plan. But it is not popular with Americans overall. Just 42% in that same poll overall were in favor of it, with only 37% of independents and 17% of Republicans supportingit.
In what could preview a lower-than-expected day-of turnout for Democrats across Nevada, the site leader and caucus leaders at a southwestern Las Vegas caucus site said fewer people showed up than they wereexpecting.
In Precinct 6658 at Sierra Vista High School, fewer than 30 people were registered to participate; precinct chair Syd Gordon said he was told to expect up to125.
Still, the total turnout in the state looks strong, buoyed by the nearly 75,000 people who votedearly.
At Gordon’s precinct, 106 early votes were cast and integrated into the caucusprocess.
Clint Eastwood Makes Bloomberg’s Day WithEndorsement
Clint Eastwood, the legendary actor and director who has backed Republicans in the past, says he is supporting former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this timearound.
“The best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there,” Eastwood, 89, said in an interview with The Wall StreetJournal.
Eastwood, who served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., in the 1980s, describes himself as a libertarian. He told the Journal he met Donald Trump before he was elected and once played golf withhim.
But Eastwood criticized the president’s rhetoric, saying that he backs “certain things that Trump’s done” but wishes the president would act “in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names. I would personally like for him to not bring himself to thatlevel.”
Eastwood made a memorable political appearance at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where he endorsed the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney. But his speech, in which he talked to an empty chair, puzzled the audience and surprised convention organizers with his unscriptedroutine.
Democrats are looking to Nevada to provide a glimpse of how nonwhite voters are feeling and whom they are supporting. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, Nevada has a diverse population that is more reflective of the Democratic Party as awhole.
Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, the deputy vice president of advocacy and legislative affairs for the Latino advocacy group UnidosUS, says nonwhite voters are active and voting this year and are looking for candidates who speak to theirneeds.
“They want to see a candidate who values diversity and can bring people together,” Martínez-de-Castro told NPR. “A candidate who has realistic and achievable ideas andpolicies."
Martínez-de-Castro says time is running out for candidates to reach thosevoters.
“They are turning out, they’re paying attention, but you have to be talking to them now,” she said. “You can’t come last-minute, a month before the final election and say, ‘Oh, I want your vote and I want to talk to you.’ You’ve got to be engaged in those communitiesnow."
View From A Precinct Where Pro-Warren CaucusgoersPersisted
Caucusgoers at Coronado High School in Henderson got a surprise visitor: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren stopped by with Dunkin’ Donuts in tow and took selfies with the crowd.
Multiple people told her how proud they were of her debate performance earlier this week. “I have a bumper sticker my husband got for me 10 years ago that says, ‘I’m in the Warren wing of the Democratic Party,’ ” said Sally Dandridge, a longtime fan. “I just like that she has well-thought-out, intellectual ideas about how she can attackproblems.”
Dandridge said she has admired Warren for her persistence through the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. “She never gives up,” Dandridge said. “In the face of bullying by other male senators, she stood her ground and she continues to stand her ground. And I lovethat.”
But many other voters were undecided as they gathered at Precinct 1391. Warren supporters groaned loudly when they learned they were one person short of moving on to the nextstage.
Those groans turned to cheers when Las Vegas writer Nadia Gilkes switched to caucus for Warren in the first round of the so-called alignment to select a nominee for the group. She had started the caucus as one of two Tom Steyer supporters in the room. But after talking to Warren supporters, Gilkes decided to make thechange.
“Climate is very big to me, I really like Tom Steyer’s (plan) … but Elizabeth also has a great plan,” Gilkes said. “It’s not as aggressive as I would like to see, but it’s the second-best outthere.”
The end result: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders got seven delegates, former Vice President Joe Biden took five, and Warren landedfour.
As Nevada Democrats caucused Saturday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looked ahead to Texas, which is among the more than a dozen states holding its primary on SuperTuesday.
He spoke to supporters at a rally in El Paso, Texas, and made no mention of the contest in Nevada, where early results and entrance polls show he is poised for a strong finish.
Sanders commented on the politics in Texas, where President Trump won the state overwhelmingly in the 2016 generalelection.
“I believe, in this state, if working people, if young people, if the minority communities come out in large numbers, we can turn this state around,” Sanders said. “If we win here in Texas, Trump isfinished.”
Caucusgoers can’t decide? In the event of a tie at a precinct, the Nevada Democratic Party has rules in place to determine awinner.
Iowans may flip a coin, but Nevadans pick acard.
Here’s how itworks:
A representative from each of the the two tied groups takes a card from a deck that has been specifically given to each precinctlocation.
According to the Nevada Democrats, the precinct chair or site leader has to shuffle the deck of cards “at least seven times” before allowing each representative to pick acard.
The representative who picks the higher card is declared the winner. (Note: Aces are high, and if representatives pick the same number, it is determined by suites with spades being the highest followed by hearts, diamonds, andclubs.)
There will also be a hotline for caucus leaders to call in the event ofquestions.
Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer has held the most events in Nevada of the eight Democrats remaining in the race to be their party’s presidentialcandidate.
Steyer did not have enough support to qualify for Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas, but he held a total of 56 events in Nevada. He also leads in ad spending in the state, dropping more than $16million.
In total, the eight candidates held 231 events in Nevada. That’s significantly fewer than ahead of the first two contests in Iowa (1,137 events) and New Hampshire (853 events) — though there were more candidates in those tworaces.
Former Vice President Joe Biden held fewer than half the number of events in the state than Steyer did. In fact, when it came to events, Biden lagged all but two of the remaining competitors in the Democratic race. That’s significant because Biden has a lot on the line in the Nevada race after a weak performance in Iowa and NewHampshire.
Chanting “Bernie,” supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is showing strength in early results, were out in force at the Bellagio Las Vegas caucus site. There was more support for Sanders in this crowd, which included many members of the Culinary Workers Union, than for any other candidate. But after Sen. Elizabeth Warren wasn’t viable here, her supporters mostly went over to former Vice President Joe Biden rather thanSanders:
All signs are pointing to a big day for Bernie Sanders in the Nevadacaucuses.
According to the entrance polls, which are often paid for by big media organizations like CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS, Sanders leads with men, women, Hispanics, young voters and people who identify as veryliberal.
He also leads with voters 45 to 64 and people with and without college degrees, and he did well with moderates and blackvoters.
The entrance poll data will change at the margins with successive data from different caucus sites and as the entrance polls are weighted to actual results. The following breakdown is as of 4:50 p.m.ET:
Women (54% of electorate): Sanders 31%, Biden 15%, Buttigieg 14%, Warren 14%, Klobuchar 12%, Steyer10%
Men (46%): Sanders 39%, Buttigieg 16%, Biden 15%, Warren10%
Indecision, Support Speeches: Caucusing At Sierra Vista HighSchool
About 20 people gathered at this Las Vegas high school, including Ashlie, who was undecided with just two minutes to go and who remained uncommitted through the first round. After supporter speeches and realignment, the caucus was over in about 40 minutes and caucusgoers said it ran smoothly. Follow alonghere:
And remember: Saturday’s caucuses are only for the Democratic presidential candidates. The Nevada Republicans are not holding a nominatingcontest.
Here’s how it shouldwork:
There are 36 delegates at stake on caucus day (with an additional 12 automatic delegates, previously known as “superdelegates,” who skip the caucus process and go right to the Democratic National Convention inJuly).
There are 252 locations with several locations hosting multiple precincts throughout their space, bringing the total number of precincts holding caucuses to more than2,000.
Like Iowa, Nevada has two rounds of caucusing and a 15%threshold
After the first round (or first alignment), if a candidate gets more than 15% of total caucusgoers in the room, that support is “locked in” and those supporters have the option of going home, as their vote isunchangeable.
Also, early voters and caucusgoers will be counted at the sametime.
Despite voting earlier — a process in which voters chose three to five candidate preferences — precinct chairs will not have access to this information until they log into a party-issued iPad and obtain the results through a Google form. On caucus day, if a candidate reaches the 15% threshold, those votes — combined with in-person support and early vote first-choice preference — are then lockedin.
This leaves the supporters of nonviable candidates to recaucus for the finalround.
Here’s a quick summary of how it works for in-person caucusgoers and for early voters who have already cast theirpreferences:
Thoserecaucusing in person have several choices; theycan:
Support a candidate who was deemed viable after the firstround
Gather enough support from other caucusgoers whose candidates were not viable to switch a previously nonviable candidate to viable (with least 15% of the room’ssupport)
Join the “uncommitted”group
For early voters, their votes will pan out in one of twoways:
If an early voter’s first choice is for a candidate who is viable after the first alignment, those votes will be locked in with thecaucusgoers.
If an early voter’s first choice is not viable, depending on how the second alignment process goes for the Nevadans on caucus day, early votes will either go with the person’s next viable option or be able to go with their first choice if it then becomesviable.
This being the case, early voters can play a strategic role in the caucusingprocess.
For the Democratic candidates, the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are more about momentum and winnowing the field than about actually racking up an impressive delegatehaul.
Today there are 36 delegates atstake.
Coming in to Nevada, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., has the narrow delegate lead, 22 to 21, over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Click here for our delegatetracker.
Only 2% of delegates have been allocated so far. Remember: Candidates need 1,991 delegates to secure their nomination on the first ballot at the Democraticconvention.
The check-in process has begun at caucus sites across the state. Caucusing won’t begin for about another hour, but voters can start theprocess.
An open question at this point is, frankly, how many people will be involved in Saturday’s in-person caucusing? Nevada Democrats were able to caucus early for the first time this year, and more than 70,000 people participated. Party leaders touted those numbers and announced Friday that the party also registered 10,000 more people as Democrats during the early votingperiod.
The question then becomes, according to Dan Lee, a political science professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whether those early voters were people who were going to participate Saturday or whether the early turnout is an indicator of huge total turnoutnumbers.
“The first question I have is: How many people are even going to show up?” Lee asked. “How busy is it going to be at theseprecincts?”
The turnout record in Nevada was set in 2008, when almost 120,000 people participated in the Democraticcaucuses.
Steyer Has Accounted For Two-Thirds Of Democrats’ Ad Spending InNevada
Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer has accounted for two-thirds of Democratic candidates’ total ad spending in Nevada. He has spent more than $16 million, mostly on broadcast ads, according to the ad-tracking firm AdvertisingAnalytics.
After performing poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, Steyer has focused his resources on the more diverse states of Nevada and SouthCarolina.
Two new super PACs, which are separate from campaign spending, are helping Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. AmyKlobuchar.
The Persist PAC officially launched on Tuesday and in just three days has spent almost $800,000 on ads for Warren in Nevada. The group’s ad spending has bumped total expenditures on behalf of Warren in Nevada to nearly $2.5million.
Warren has long criticized super PACs, and her presidential campaign has made a point of not soliciting money from wealthydonors.
Klobuchar is also being supported by a superPAC despite saying she opposes them. The group, known as Kitchen Table Conversations, has spent nearly $300,000 on her behalf in Nevada, bringing her total to just under $1.2million.
This all comes after the super PAC Vote Nurses Values backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, despite his campaign also swearing off that kind of outside support. The group, which is directly linked to the union National Nurses United, has spent just over $170,000 on radio ads inNevada.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has already spent $452 million on ads nationwide, has only spent about $154,000 in Nevada, since he is not an option for caucusgoers onSaturday.
Fresh Reports Of Russian Interference Spark Discord AmongDemocrats
A day after once again downplaying U.S. intelligence assessments that Russia aided his own 2016 campaign and is once again trying to boost his reelection effort, President Trump is publicizing allegations that Russian intelligence is also trying to boost Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’campaign.
The tweet from the president, coming just before Nevada Democrats meet to caucus, caps a 24-hour period confirming fears that reports about Russian interference in the 2020 election will be weaponized by the president and Democratic campaignsalike.
On Friday afternoon, The Washington Postreported that intelligence officials had briefed the Sanders campaign on Russian intelligence efforts to boost the Vermont senator’s presidential bid. While the report did not include details on the actual efforts themselves, special counsel Robert Mueller found that Russian actors worked to boost Sanders in 2016, aswell.
The Sanders campaign initially sent out a statement condemning Russian election interference, but shortly after that, Sanders implied to reporters that The Washington Post was serving some sort of agenda with the report’s timing. “One day before the Nevada caucus. Why do you think it came out? The Washington Post — good friends,” he said to reporters inCalifornia.
Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, later told NPR that the report was factual and that the Sanders campaign had been briefed a month ago. Shakir theorized, without specific evidence, that the Trump administration had leaked the information to damageSanders.
“It’s no surprise to me that this leak occurred in The Washington Post. You have Donald Trump, who came to Nevada one day before the Nevada caucus, and said in a speech, ‘Bernie Sanders’ and ‘Moscow’ in the same breath. And then he gets on a plane, and an hour later, we hear in The Washington Post that … Russian actors have been trying to quote, unquote, support the campaign,” Shakirsaid.
Within hours, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign had tweeted “Feel The Bern” in Russian, and campaign staffers from his and former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign were arguing on Twitter about which of their candidates were the ones that Russia didn’twant.
“They’re engaged again right now, as we speak, trying to affect not only the general election, but who becomes the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Biden warned at a Friday evening rally in LasVegas.
“Folks, we’ve got to wake up,” Bidensaid.
Asked directly why he thinks Russia would try to boost Sanders, Shakir said the country’s main goal is to “sowdiscord.”
He thinks Friday’s news cycle is proof it’s working. “Instead of unifying against Russia and saying Russian actors are the problem here, they are now criticizing Bernie Sanders and falling into the exact trap that has been laidhere.”
He’s hoping that a fractured field, and that replicating and building on some of that strength with Latinos from 2016, can help him win in Nevada thistime.
So what does Nevada’s Democratic electorate look like, especially after Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the whitest states in the country, voted? Here are some key things to watch with various groups, with a look at the entrance polls from the 2016contest:
There was a huge gender split in 2016 — 56% of the electorate was women. Hillary Clinton won them 57% to 41%, and Sanders won men, 53% to44%.
For as much of a spotlight as Latino voters deservedly get in Nevada, black voters put Clinton over the top in 2016. She actually lost the white and Latino votes to Sanders but overwhelmingly won the black vote with76%.
Overall, the electorate was 41% nonwhite, including 19% Latino, 13% black and 4% Asian. Sanders won white voters, 49% to 47%, and Latinos, 53% to47%.
There was a big young-versus-older voters split in 2016. Voters under 45 (37% of the electorate) overwhelmingly went for Sanders, 72% to25%.
But two-thirds (66%) of voters 45 and older broke forClinton.
Nevada Democrats self-identified as a whopping 70% liberal. Sanders won them, but Clinton hung close, 51% to46%.
Clinton overwhelmingly won the other 30% of moderates/conservatives, 60% to36%.
Whites without college degrees (29% of the electorate) went for Sanders, 52% to 44%, while whites with degrees (30% of the electorate) narrowly went for Clinton, 50% to46%.
Where does the vote comefrom?
Overwhelmingly, the vote comes from Clark County, home to the state’s two largest cities, Las Vegas (population 645,000) and the suburb of Henderson (population310,000).
The second-largest tranche of county delegates came from Washoe County, where Reno is located and which accounted for 16% of the total. That means 9-in-10 came from twocounties.
But, and this is critical, that doesn’t mean campaigns should ignore the less-populated, more rural areas, especially in caucuses. Candidates can get an outsize number of delegates from rural areas. It’s how Barack Obama won the most delegates out of Nevada in 2008, but lost the popularvote.
Biden’s Support From Minority Voters Faces 1st BigTest
Former Vice President Joe Biden has been insisting that his campaign will perform much better once the race moved to more diversestates.
Nevada is a test for thattheory.
It’s a majority-minority state, with sizable Latino, Asian and blackpopulations.
Biden supporters in Nevada reject the idea that somehow his fourth-place finish in Iowa and fifth-place finish in New Hampshire translate to theirstate.
"We have Iowa with small towns and farming, and we have New Hampshire with a very conservative area that’s isolated from the rest of the area. And then you have Las Vegas and Nevada. We reflect the cross section of America," said Tom Vannozzi, a 69-year-old precinct captain for Biden. "It’s very important what wedo.”
Biden loyalists know that no matter what the actual numerical results are, their candidate needs a jolt ofmomentum.
At his final caucus-eve rally in Las Vegas, Biden was welcomed by members of the Latino Victory Fund, an influential advocacy group that endorsed him earlier in the week. That endorsement was key for Biden, who has trailed Bernie Sanders among Latinos in most recentpolls.
"I think a Top 2 finish here is great," said John Flynn, who was an adviser to Biden when he was vice president and who now lives in Nevada. "Even like a strongthird.”
But still, supporters are anxious about setting expectations too high for the former vicepresident.
"Nevada’s great, but Nevada, you know, there’s not that many delegates," said Jay Sachnowitz, a Biden supporter as he waited in line at the final rally ahead of Saturday’s caucuses. "The delegates are Super Tuesday and South Carolina. So that’s going to decide what’s going tohappen."
Nevada will award 36 delegates for the Democratic nomination, while South Carolina awards 54 and more than 1,300 are up for grabs on Super Tuesday, March3.
For Latino Voters, It’s About Jobs, Health Care AndImmigration
Saturday’s results in Nevada could signal where Latinos will lend their support in the Democratic nominationfight.
The state boasts one of the largest shares of Latinos in the country, and its caucuses were moved up in the national Democratic schedule thanks to itsdiversity.
Several voters told NPR that they were propelled to vote in the caucuses because of concerns about President Trump and what they characterized as his anti-immigrant rhetoric, in addition to kitchen tableissues.
“We have this saying that Latinos and Latinas go to the polls with immigration on their hearts, but with jobs, the economy, health care and housing on their minds and top of mind,” said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of Latino advocacy groupUnidosUS.
Energized Latino voters already generated long lines at early Democratic voting sites earlier thisweek.
The trends could be reflected in overall figures collected by the Nevada Democratic Party for the state’s first early caucus voting effort. The officials said that nearly 75,000 turned out and that many were first-timevoters.
In 2016, 84,000 voted in the state’s one-day caucuseffort.
Rosa Mares, a housekeeper at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip, was among those voting early. She said she was voting for the first time in a U.S. election after living here for 30 years. She was encouraged by her family to become a citizen only a few months ago and then to vote. She pointed to immigration as one of herconcerns.
“It’s not right that [Trump] is causing division,” she said in her native Spanish. “There has to beunity.”
She declined to say whom she picked, but emphasized that aside from immigration, her health care through her membership of the state’s powerful Culinary Workers Union wascritical.
“Hopefully we pick the right person who will fight for us,” Maressaid.
‘No Scrubs’ In The White House: Steyer Gets A Boost FromTLC
Stepping into billionaire activist Tom Steyer’s “Battle Ready” rally on Friday night in Las Vegas felt more like walking into a really fancy, well-financed party at a club rather than a campaignevent.
The industrial space was filled with strobe lights, twinkle lights, light-up plants (OK, just a lot of lights), Instagram-worthy faux-grass pillars with the word “TOM” in glowing red and blue, food, drinks, a DJ and a performance by TLC, whose hits “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs” kept the 500-person crowd dancing and singing. (Note: Steyer’s campaign has said the band’s appearance was arranged through a booker and isn’t anendorsement.)
It’s not exactly common to see people waving their beer and “IT’S THE ECONOMY” signs in the air as they rock out to Icona Pop’s electro-remix of Dolly Parton’s“Jolene.”
But this is the campaign in LasVegas.
The racially diverse crowd was made up of supporters from teenagers with their parents in tow to college students tograndparents.
Lynn Arce says that kind of diversity meshes with Steyer’smessaging.
“I’m really energized by Steyer,” she said. “He’s for everyone. I really believe that race, along with climate, have to be the top priority, and he seems to be the candidate that is putting it first andforemost.”
Arce said she was originally nervous that Steyer didn’t make the debate stage earlier this week, worrying it could hurt his chances in Nevada. But after watching the debate, she thinks it may have been a good thing he wasn’tthere.
“The debate seemed vicious,” Arce said. “I’m hoping Tom just stays on message, which he seems very consistent on that and so I think things will go hisway.”
Once TLC finished performing, Steyer took the stage and emphasized his core messages of climate change (“We need to rebuild America in a climate-smart way”) and the economy, saying he’s the only candidate who can go after President Trump on the economy andwin.
Before heading to the campaign’s selfie line, Steyer urged supporters to bring friends and family with them to caucus onSaturday.
“The threat we have is if we don’t come together,” he said. “That’s why Nevada matters so much. Nevada is the first place where we have diversity. This is the first place where you can claim you pulled together the broadest coalition that is the DemocraticParty.
“If we win tomorrow, we’re going to win the whole god**** thing,” he said tocheers.
While people were still partying on the dance floor, Steyer left to attend a town hall of a very different vibe: one hosted by Mi Familia Vota at a union hall for plumbers and welders. Before taking questions from the smaller, primarily Latino crowd, he focused on immigration and what he called a humanitarian crisis at the border. The night ended with the crowd chanting, “Sí se puede” (roughly translating to: “Yes, we can” or “Yes, it can bedone”).
Saturday’s caucuses will feature the most diverse electorate yet in this Democratic presidential nominating contest. And it presents a challenge for each of the candidates in the race. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who finished second in Nevada in 2016, is the favorite in yet another race, as the more moderate candidates continue to duke itout.
In a whirlwind Las Vegas tour, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren made her final case to Democratic voters in Nevada to pick her as the presidential nominee on the eve of the state’s caucusday.
Warren visited the popular local eatery Tacos El Gordo, in a strip mall shopping center in East Las Vegas, and then held a town hall styled as a blockparty.
“I need your help in this election,” she told customers at the taco shop. “Get out there andvote.”
Warren came into Nevada looking to regain her footing after she came in third or worse in Iowa and NewHampshire.
She drew new energy from her debate performance Wednesday when she attacked former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his records on law enforcement and labor and for claims of discrimination involvingwomen.
Former Democratic presidential candidate and now-surrogate Julián Castro campaigned on her behalf throughout the state in recent days andweeks.
At Tacos El Gordo, Warren visited with workers in the kitchen and at tables of customers surrounded by hot pink walls at the bustling eatery. Warren herself ordered a beef steak taco with cilantro, salsa and guacamole – hold theonions.
“I knew her name … but I hadn’t met her,” worker Norma Vasquez, who took a selfie with Warren and is now considering voting for her Saturday, said in her native Spanish. “She made a good impression, and she seems like a goodperson.”
David Blackmon Jr. just happened to be visiting the eatery before getting a Warren selfie as well. Blackmon said he was a Warren fan already and is planning to vote forher.
“I just came to get tacos, and then next thing I know I saw all the cameras … and Elizabeth Warren,” hesaid.
President Trump held a midday rally in Las Vegas on Friday ahead of the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, another in a series of events to counterprogram the Democratic race. Nevada Republicans canceled their caucuses, so Trump is not even on the ballot here until the general election inNovember.
His rally speech, like many, was a mix of promoting the economy, warning about people who are living in the country illegally, deriding the media and mocking the Democrats vying to run againsthim.
"Mini Mike so far has spent almost $500 million in order to get embarrassed by Pocahontas,” he said referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg during Wednesday’s Democraticdebate.
“And she’s mean, isn’t she? Do you see the anger on her face? That nervous energy? She’s jumping up and down, she’s a mess,” Trumpsaid.
Trump pointed out that he spent far less of his own fortune on his 2016 run for office than Bloomberg is currentlyspending.
He touched on the recent news of an intelligence assessment that suggested Russians are intending to meddle in the 2020 campaign to aid his reelection — but only to suggest the reports are a partisan attack and a “disinformation” campaign to hurthim.
Hillary Clinton won Nevada in the 2016 general election, and the state is one Republicans are eager to reclaim. Polls show Republicans are enthusiastic about the 2020 election, and in a clear sign of that enthusiasm, hundreds of people sporting red Trump hats lined up hours before the rallybegan.
“It is such an honor to be in the same place as the president,” said Twilight Dwyer, a 51-year-old surgical assistant as she put on a “Keep America Great” T-shirt she had just purchased. “He is honest … he does notbulls***.”
Dwyer said she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because he “spoke well,” but said she came to believe that was a mistake. “Yes, [Trump] cannot speak very well, but who can? The ones who speak well are the bulls******s,” shesaid.
U.S. officials have told Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign that Russian intelligence agents are trying to help the candidate and to meddle in the Democratic presidential contest, The Washington Postreported onFriday.
Sanders released a statement that does not challenge the premise of the Post’s story.
“Let’s be clear, the Russians want to undermine American democracy by dividing us up and, unlike the current president, I stand firmly against their efforts, and any other foreign power that wants to interfere in our election,” Sanders said in thestatement.
Speaking to reporters in Nevada today, Sanders confirmed there was an intelligence briefing with his campaign, saying it took place “a monthago.”
In his statement today, Sanders seemed to blame Russia for "some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign" — an allusion to aggressive online attacks from “Bernie bros” — "may well not be coming from realsupporters."
Meanwhile, President Trump has bristled at stories by the Post and The New York Times that said lawmakers were told by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia was meddling in the campaign in hisfavor.
Trump called the suggestion that Russia prefers him “another misinformation campaign” by Democrats. At a rally in Las Vegas on Friday, he told his supporters that it was “a rumor” and“disinformation.”
This story was updated with Sanders’ comments to reporters inNevada.
Bloomberg: Women Free To Seek Release From NondisclosureAgreements
Two days after facing tough questions about the agreements and accusations in a Democratic debate, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says his company has identified three nondisclosure agreements with women "to address complaints about comments they said I had made" and that the women are free to seek a release from the agreements to publicly discuss theirallegations.
1st 2020 Campaign Finance Reports Show Bloomberg’s SpendingProwess
Presidential candidates filed their first monthly fundraising reports last night and, as expected, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg outspent all the other candidates by a widemargin.
As of the end of January, Bloomberg had invested more than $460 million of his own fortune into the race, roughly half of which he spent inJanuary.
This most recent data shows where candidates were just days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on Feb.3.
Among candidates who are relying on more traditional funding sources, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fared the best. He raised $25 million in donations, bringing his total raised so far to more than $134 million. Sanders also had more cash on hand than any Democratic candidate who is notself-funding.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who leads the field in pledged delegates going into the Nevada caucuses, raised far less: $6.2 million in January. It will be a month until we have concrete numbers on how his fundraising fared after his strong Iowa and New Hampshireperformances.
As for President Trump, his campaign raised more money than each of the Democratic candidates who rely on traditional fundraising to fuel theirraces.
Early Turnout Was High. Will The Total Exceed2016’s?
With about 75,000 Nevadans casting their votes early, total turnout for the Democratic caucuses may surpass that of 2016, when 84,000 people castballots.
This is the first year that the Nevada Democratic Party has allowed early voting before the caucuses. Experts are watching how well new technology works to sort those votes and help with counting onSaturday.
Both parties have seen caucus turnout fluctuate since Nevada became an early voting state in 2008, a change that was championed by then-Senate Majority Leader HarryReid.
That year, Democratic caucus turnout shot up to a record high of close to 120,000 Nevadans — 10 times as many as voted four years earlier. But, eight years later, in the 2016 caucuses, Democratic turnout was almost 30%less.
Nevada Republicans chose not to hold caucuses this year, but they have also seen sharp changes in turnout over the years. Republican voter turnout increased by 127% in 2016 from 2012 levels, with then-candidate Donald Trump receiving 46% of thevote.
Cyber Experts Cautiously Optimistic On Nevada’s CaucusTech
Nevada Democrats face a tall task on Saturday: integrate nearly 75,000 early votes into the normal caucus process — with a technology that has not been used this waybefore.
After the Iowa technology meltdown earlier this month, the Nevada state party scrapped a plan to use the same company that designed that now-infamous smartphoneapp.
Instead, precinct leaders across the state will use party-provided iPads and access a customized set of Google forms to help with the caucus math and provide each precinct with its early votedata.
It’s a plan that came together over the past two weeks, with details being finalized just daysago.
Technology experts have applauded Nevada Democrats for their transparency — the party hosted media members for a mock caucus using the iPads early this week — and for the fact that there will be backups in place. The party is providing early vote data to precinct leaders as well, so they will be able to do everything manually, using paper and a pencil, ifnecessary.
Still, it has been a rushed process, said Betsy Cooper, the executive director of the Aspen Tech PolicyHub.
“I vastly prefer this solution to others that Nevada could have chosen,” Cooper said. “But I do worry that the amount of testing that has gone in is minimal and the amount of time for security professionals to study how this might be made vulnerable has been verylimited.”
No one quite defines Nevada Democratic politics like Harry Reid. The former Senate majority leader has been able to make or break candidates statewide and is widely regarded as having an unparalleled turnoutmachine.
And now he’s making the case that, with Iowa’s troubles, perhaps Nevada should go first in the Democratic presidential nominatingprocess.
"I think we have a tremendously good case now," Reid told NPR’s Tamara Keith. He noted Nevada’s far-more diverse population than either of the current first two states, Iowa or New Hampshire. He added that Americans "get a false perception of what’s happening around the country when you have those two states determining what’s going to happen in a presidential election. I don’t think it’sfair."
Reid, 80, a boxer in his youth, has always been happy to mix it up and cause trouble. He even said he’d be happy to play a deal-making role at a brokered convention. And he had ideas for two others who should be tapped to helpout.
"Maybe we could even get Barack Obama to do it," Reid said. "The two most popular people in the country, and perhaps the world, are Barack and MichelleObama."
In the run-up to this weekend’s caucuses, many commentators have noted that Nevada is more racially diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire. But that’s just one of the ways Nevada standsout.
It’s also the least educated of the early voting states. About 24% of Nevadans hold college degrees, compared with 31.5% nationwide. The state is also more heavily unionized. About 1 in 7 workers in Nevada belongs to a union, compared with 1 in 10 workersnationwide.
Nevada is more heavily dependent on leisure and hospitality than any other state, with 25% of Nevada workers employed in those industries. That’s down a bit from 30% in 2000. By contrast, Nevada is about half as dependent on manufacturing as the nation as awhole.
Nevada suffered badly during the recession and took almost two years longer than the rest of the country to recover all of its lost jobs. Employment has been growing steadily since 2014, though. At 3.8% in December, Nevada’s unemployment rate is slightly above the national average and more than a full percentage point higher than Iowa, New Hampshire or SouthCarolina’s.
Last year, Nevada had the second-highest population growth rate in the country, after Idaho. Many of the new residents are transplants from other states, including the former Oakland Raiders, who relocate to Las Vegas thisfall.
The state’s Democratic caucuses take place Saturday, and recent polling puts Bernie Sanders in a strong position to winthere.
The Vermont senator followed up a virtual tie for first in Iowa’s caucuses with a narrow win in the New Hampshire primary. Another victory Saturday would more firmly establish the self-described democratic socialist in the role of front-runner in the party’s presidential nominatingcontest.
Nevada could also be a key proving ground for several othercandidates.
Meanwhile, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar will aim for strong finishes to demonstrate their appeal among more diverse voting coalitions. Conversely, billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who has made a direct pitch to minority voters, is seeking his best finish yet. (Remember, the other billionaire candidate, Mike Bloomberg, isn’t on the Nevadaballot.)
The candidates’ changing ambitions are due in part to the nominating contest’s shift to more diverse states. While Iowa and New Hampshire are about 90% white, Nevada has a far larger minority population. In 2016, 41% of Democratic caucusgoers were nonwhite, according to entrancepolls.