LAS VEGAS: Former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a fiery speech at the Clark County Democratic Party gala a week before the Nevada presidential preference caucuses as he drew sharp distinctions with Bernie Sanders on guns and healthcare.
Biden didn’t call Sanders’ name on Saturday night as he stood in a casino ballroom and recalled the worst mass shooting in modern American history that occurred several hundred yards away in 2017.
Then the former Vice President alluded to the Sanders’ Senate vote for a 2005 law that gave gun manufacturers immunity from civil lawsuits related to gun violence.
“It’s a horrible, horrible decision,” Biden said, asking the audience to imagine Big Tobacco having legal immunity. He recalled meeting parents of children killed in school shootings. “I will not rest until they’re able to sue the gun manufacturers,” he said.
Biden later turned to health care. Again without naming Sanders, Biden repeated a recent argument from the power Culinary Union that a single-payer “Medicare for All” system would eliminate union members’ health coverage won through collective bargaining. Biden touted his idea to add a “public option” to existing health insurance markets.
Vermont senator, Bernie Sanders laced into billionaire former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg at a Democratic Party dinner in Las Vegas.
Sanders rattled off a list of Bloomberg heresies against the Democratic party – implementing “racist policies like stop and frisk” in New York, opposing the minimum wage or higher taxes on the wealthy during the Obama administration.
“The simple truth is that mayor Bloomberg with all his money will not create the kind of excitement and energy we need to have the voter turnout we must have to defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders said.
It was a rare attack by name from Sanders. Bloomberg is skipping the Nevada caucuses and was not at the Clark County Democratic Party dinner where Sanders and other 2020 contenders spoke.
Some Nevada Democrats who made Bernie Sanders their first choice in the state’s early caucus voting say they think he has a better chance of being elected President now than he did in 2016.
Solana Kline of Reno says she supported Sanders last time too, but didn’t think he could win so she opted for Hillary Clinton because she was more mainstream. Kline says the whole political climate has changed since then and Sanders vs Donald Trump would be viewed more as good vs evil.
Clinton carried Nevada in 2016, but Sanders won in Washoe County, which includes Reno and Sparks.
Brian Feeney says Sanders has more support and is better positioned to win this time around. The 42-year-old behavioral analyst who works with children with autism at the University of Nevada, Reno says he may consider the Green Party candidate if Sanders isn’t the Democratic nominee.
Margaret Hines of Reno also backed Clinton in 2016 but says Sanders is inspiring voters to take back their power from leaders in Washington. She doesn’t think “vanilla is going to do it this time.”
Paul Kiser is among the Nevadans who had the candidates’ electability on their minds when they cast their early ballots on Saturday ahead of the February 22 presidential caucus.
The 62-year-old retiree from Reno says he settled on Pete Buttigieg because he’s progressive but “reasonable”. Kiser backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and plans to support the candidate who wins the Democratic nomination.
But he isn’t sure Bernie Sanders appeals to a broad enough spectrum of voters to beat President Trump and doesn’t think Elizabeth Warren has proven she’s viable. He says Joe Biden represents too much of the party’s old guard.
Randall Chicola says it came down to a “coin flip” when he listed Sanders first and Warren second. The 33-year-old graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno says those who dismiss the progressives ignore the fact that a right-wing extremist is President.
Chicola says Republicans don’t bat an eye at spending $1 trillion on tax cuts, but claim that spending money on health care or lowering student debt is extreme.
A number of early-caucus voters in northern Nevada said health care was their top priority when they decided which Democrat to put on the top of their ballot.
Lindsy Judd says her family currently has no health insurance because it’s too expensive. She was among several voters who told The Associated Press on Saturday they made Bernie Sanders their first pick and Elizabeth Warren second.
Judd says the candidate who wins the Democratic nomination will get her votes in November. And she says she understands why some Democrats believe the party is better off with more of a mainstream nominee.
But the 33-year-old who lives in a valley north of Reno says she needed to cast her ballot for someone who is serious about tackling the cost of health insurance, which she says rivals her housing costs.
Jennifer Cole, a 48-year-old librarian from Reno, listed health care and housing as her two top issues when she settled on Warren as her favorite. She put Pete Buttigieg second and Amy Klobuchar third on her ballot.
Early caucus-goers in Nevada waited more than an hour in line outside an AFL-CIO union office precinct site in a Las Vegas suburb on Saturday for their chance to fill in paper ballots for a Democratic challenger to President Donald Trump.

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