| Schwabenblitz, Shutterstock

Presidential campaigns target Nevada

Candidates vying for the most powerful posts in the country are flocking this week to Nevada, a 2016 battle ground state.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is scheduled to talk Thursday in Reno about her plans for jobs and the economy.

Her Republican opponent Donald Trump has canceled a Friday afternoon rally in Las Vegas but is still expected to raise money that evening in Lake Tahoe. He did not give a reason for changing his plans.

The news followed two Las Vegas stops on the Democratic campaign trail for vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Monday. It was the U.S. senator from Virginia’s first trip to Nevada since Clinton picked him as her running mate on July 22.

"I'm not here by accident,” Kaine told a crowd of about 280 at a rally in East Las Vegas. “Nevada is really, really important."

Polls show tight contests in two swing states of similar size. Nevada and Iowa each have six electoral votes up for grabs.

According to data reported by Politico on Aug. 19, Clinton is leading the race in Nevada, with Trump trailing by two points. She’s up by 0.6 points in Iowa.

More than $4.5 million has been given to campaigns by Nevadans during the 2016 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Clinton received about $1.5 million of the $2.1 million donated to Democratic presidential candidates this cycle. Trump has received $595,890 of about $2.3 million contributed to Republicans.

Presidential campaigns had spent a total of $23.7 million on television and radio across Nevada as of June 7, according to the Detroit-based media company Ad Age. Of that money, Clinton had spent $15.3 million versus Trump’s $489,000.

Clinton aired her first general election ad on June 16. By mid-July, she had spent $4.7 million on commercials in Nevada, according to data from Smart Media Group, a Virginia-based communications company.

Trump, however, had only spent $40,000 in Nevada by mid-July, and didn’t start airing general election ads until Aug. 19, two months after Clinton’s launch.

Clinton and allies expect to spend a combined $2.4 million in Nevada and Iowa during the next two weeks, Politico reported. On the pro-Trump side, the National Rifle Association is pitching in about $98,000.

The Republican and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence has visited Nevada 15 times during this election cycle. Of those stops, 11 were in Clark County, the home of Las Vegas and about two million of the state’s 2.8 million people. In northern Nevada, Trump has visited Sparks twice. Pence, the Indiana governor, has made one trip to Carson City and another to Reno.

Clinton and Kaine have stumped in Nevada 16 times, including 11 events in Clark County. Clinton has traveled to Reno on five occasions.

During Kaine’s most recent trip to the Silver State, he spoke at an Iron Workers convention at the Mirage on the Las Vegas strip. As a young man, Kaine had a job at his father’s iron-working shop in Kansas City, Missouri.
Albert Kaine Jr., 81, joined his son for the union conference and a rally in East Las Vegas on Monday.

With his father watching, Kaine talked about the country’s need for vocational education as well as debt-free college. He described plans to boost jobs and the economy by investing in American infrastructure, raising the minimum wage and giving companies incentives to share profits with workers. 

Kaine told the crowd he and Clinton believe immigration can be reformed.

“Sí se puede,” he said, repeating in Spanish a motto of labor unions and civil rights groups.

Meanwhile, Trump defended changing his stance on deporting immigrants illegally living in the United States.
The director for the Republican’s Nevada campaign, Charles Muñoz, responded to a request for an interview after Kaine’s speech by emailing a prepared statement.

“Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are running for a third Obama term that will guarantee continued stagnant wages, higher taxes and unnecessary regulation. By contrast, Nevadans recognize that a Trump-Pence Administration will create jobs, lower taxes on the middle class, and repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare that holds our economy back,” Muñoz wrote.

 Cretta “CJ” Johnson, a retired government administrator who lives in Las Vegas, said she supports the Clinton-Kaine ticket because Trump feeds on dividing America.That troubles her as one of the first black students to be integrated into Northwestern State University of Louisiana in the 1960s. Johnson, 69, said she’s impressed by Clinton’s strength, even if some men don’t like it. 

“We’re stepping out of the kitchen and into the White House,” said Jennifer Webb-Cook, a 62-year-old kindergarten teacher, wearing a shirt that read: “The future is female.” 

She and Sakina Turner, a North Las Vegas school cafeteria worker, went to Philadelphia as a delegates at the Democratic National Convention in July. Turner, 44, said Trump is not right for America.

 “He wants the old ways, the good ol’ boys network,” she said, wearing a flashy blue-felt hat decorated with a donkey, stars and glittery red, white and blue. “This is a new America. We include everybody.”

Clinton and Trump are scheduled to return to the Silver State for a presidential debate on Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

AMI researchers Nichole Wilson and Jessica Kades contributed to this report.