Joseph Pepitone Sr. arrives at a Trump rally in Las Vegas.
Joseph Pepitone Sr. arrives at a Trump rally in Las Vegas. | Amy Nile, AMI

All Campaign Roads Lead To Nevada

High-profile politicians stormed the Battle Born state this week as the race for the White House hit the home stretch.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren held an event in Las Vegas. On Wednesday GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump held two rallies, in Reno and Henderson. And, fresh off his vice presidential debate with Republican Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Kaine held events in the state on Thursday and Friday.

Nevada can expect more visits from leading contenders and their surrogates because it is a key swing state in both the race for the White House and efforts to control the Senate.

Hillary Clinton holds a one point lead over Trump – 44 to 43 percent - according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

The contest to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Harry Reid is also tight. Republican Joe Heck has a 3.4 point lead over Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, according to Real Clear Politics averages. Democrats must pick-up at least four seats to flip the chamber and retaining Reid’s seat will make that much easier.

Democrats make up 39 percent of almost 1.4 million registered Nevada voters, compared 33 percent for the Republicans, according data released by the state Monday.

Those who haven’t made up their minds tend to be younger and less likely to be staunch supporters of either party, UNLV political science professor Dan Lee told American Media Institute.

He said the attention Nevada is receiving as a swing state could bring more people to the polls. “Being a swing state brings so much attention” to Nevada,” Lee said. “It fosters political participation.”

Chelsea Agsalud, 22, displayed no lack of enthusiasm at Sen. Warren’s Democratic event on Tuesday. “I’ve always been a diehard Hillary fan,” said Agsalud, who said was named after Clinton’s daughter.

During his speech Thursday, Kaine the crowd of 425, mostly union workers, about plans he and Clinton have to improve vocational education, raise wages, give tax relief to those earning less than $250,000 a year. He said they’d nominate justices to the Supreme Court who understand organized labor and reform immigration.

Kaine said his goal during Tuesday’s vice presidential debate was to challenge Pence to about the “horrible” things that come out of Trump’s mouth. “If you can’t defend your running mate, how are you going to ask a person to vote for them,” he said.

Mike Hadley, 70, was among about 150 seniors at Kaine’s stump in Henderson Friday morning. “I’m kind of hoping Hillary wins so she gets to say ‘you’re fired’ to Mr. Trump,” the retired salesman, joked.

Trump’s message to thousands of his supporters in Henderson on Wednesday contrasted with Kaine’s. He vowed to put up a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to stop immigrants from coming into the country illegally. He promised to make better trade deals, repeal Obamacare and cut taxes and regulations. “I’ll be the greatest president God ever created,” he said.

John Elizondo, a Las Vegas chauffeur, made toilet paper to show support for the Republican.It’s time to wipe the crap out of Washington,” the 65-year-old said, reading the plastic wrapper around the four-roll pack. “We could wipe it out with Trump.

At his Reno rally, the Republican billionaire blundered the state’s preferred pronunciation, calling it “Ne-VAH-da,” and repeating it with emphasis. That’s a pet peeve of locals who insist it’s “Nev-AD-a.”
“Nobody says it the other way,” Trump told the crowd.

Jocelyn Pereira heard Warren make the same mistake on Tuesday. Unlike the brash businessman, she said, the anti-Wall Street populist acknowledged the error and corrected it.

Trump’s pronunciation didn’t bother Joseph Pepitone Sr., a Las Vegas entertainer who dresses as a character he calls “Grandpa Vampire.” He hung anti-Clinton signs crooked on his station wagon and put mannequin in her likeness on the roof parked it outside the Republican rally.

Pepitone said he’ll take a gamble with Trump. “In Las Vegas, the biggest thing to win is a royal flush,” the 75-year-old said. “To win a royal flush, you need a trump.”