Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2015

Currently: 85° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

election 2012:

Nevada Democrats’ challenge: A convincing argument for Obama’s re-election


Steve Marcus

President Barack Obama listens to Clark County teachers Isaac Barron, a government and world history teacher at Rancho High School, during a roundtable discussion on K-12 education at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.

As Nevada Democrats convene in Charlotte, N.C., for their national convention this week, they face a challenge perhaps more daunting than the rivalry over who should be their nominee, a predicament that ensnared their Republican counterparts in Tampa.

Democrats must build the case — and sell it to voters in a state most ravaged by the recession — for why President Barack Obama should be granted another four years to lead the country.

The Democratic National Convention follows a week of Republican speeches aimed at harpooning both Obama’s record as president and his ability to win people over through the power of his words.

Indeed, GOP nominee Mitt Romney posed perhaps the single most important question to voters that Democrats will have to answer this week: Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Erin Bilbray-Kohn, a delegate from Las Vegas, answered candidly when that question was broached to her.

“I feel that I am about the same as I was four years ago,” she said. “But I do think things have leveled out and things are continuing to slowly get better.”

Her answer goes to the heart of what Democrats have been arguing for nearly Obama’s entire term in office.

“It took us a while to get into this financial mess,” Bilbray-Kohn said. “The president has us on the right track to getting us out of it, and it would be a really bad mistake if we just change course at this point when we’re so close to recovery.”

The Obama administration has some data to back up its claim that things are slowly recovering. The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent — not where the president had promised it would be, but lower than the 10 percent it hit in the months after he took office.

It also points to “29 straight months of job growth” nationally.

In Nevada, however, the economic picture remains bleak — unemployment is hovering at 12 percent, and 60 percent of home mortgages are at least 25 percent underwater.

That creates an added challenge for Nevada Democrats trying to carry Obama’s message. They will have to convince Nevadans weary of economic hardship to remain patient and to trust just a little bit longer that Obama’s policies will eventually lead to a full recovery.

“The public needs to give him a little bit more time,” said Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, who is also a national delegate. “They need to do that not just because he needs more time, but because they see the country moving in the right direction. He’s managed to get it headed in the right direction.”

In an interview with the Sun, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz pointed to the Obama administration’s tax breaks for those paying college tuition and for small business owners and congratulated him for “making sure student loan interest rates didn’t double.”

She also defended the administration’s approach to the housing crisis, addressing criticism that Obama wasn’t aggressive enough in stopping the downward slide that has trapped so many Nevadans in underwater mortgages.

“I think it has worked to keep millions of people in their homes,” she said. “And it’s making sure to get the banks to work with people. I think the president’s neighborhood stabilization program has definitely worked.

“The answer is definitely not to just leave it to the private market.”

But Democrats won’t just focus on selling Obama’s record, they’ll also take aim at Republican economic policies.

Wasserman-Schultz accused Romney of seeking to return to the policies that “crashed the economy in the first place” and favoring policies that would leave the middle class to “collect some of the crumbs that might fall from the richest.”

“Barack Obama believes in giving everyone a fair shot and a fair shake and if you do that in America, you’ll have the opportunity to be successful,” she said. “We shouldn’t just have policies focused on the people who are already doing well. We need to make sure everyone has a chance to succeed.”

Republicans spent the last week accusing Obama of seeking to punish the rich and inciting class warfare to, as Sen. Marco Rubio put it, “divide and conquer” voters.

But the Obama campaign denies it will use the convention to react to any of the accusations lobbed by Republicans during theirs.

“We are going to stick to our plans,” Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said.

“The goal of our convention is to bring the choice people have into sharp focus,” she said. “It won’t be to rally the base or level sharp attacks.”

Senior strategist David Axelrod accused the Republican Party of simply “talking to itself” with “buzz words” that appeal to its base during its convention.

Democrats will take a different approach, Axelrod said.

“The message we want to hammer home is that this president is committed by experience, by belief and whole-heartedly to rebuilding an economy in which every person who worked hard can get ahead, in which the middle class is secure, and in which Americans can have confidence that their children can look forward to something even more in the future,” he said. “That is what we’re going to convey. That is the reality.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 13 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Unfortunately the President has NO experience. This is why we face many of the challenges of today
    The message of Romney should be the same as Obama in 2008 -- Need Change. Given my vote to the President, I feel betrayed, just as I did when I voted for Jimmy Carter. I want to vote Democratic
    but my conscious will not let me. The President's message seems to be "don't vote for the other guy, he will take away your freebies."

  2. I believe the argument on Mitt Romney's side actually is to those earning more than $250,000 a year is "don't vote for the other guy - he will make you pay the same tax rate as the rest of America who earn their money."

    No other President has had to work through a recovery with a congress solely dedicated to NOT working together as a nation to solve problems.

    My family has earned everything we have and along the way we pay taxes because America works best with the social contract of free public education, quality public infrastructure, and the hand up when our neighbors need emergency relief. We have a civic duty to ensure equal access for all.

    The GOP can't have it both ways screaming for smaller government that leaves our nation crumbling to its knees while advocating government exand itself into our private lives to restrict birth control and the personal relationship between a woman and her physician.

    I lost a child at 20 weeks gestation my doctor was able to provide me with compassionate care to explain that our daughter was not going to survive. That was a devastating personal time for my family our government had no place in telling my physician what to do and when. The GOP wants to pass laws which would have prevented my doctor from providing my husband and I information about why she had stopped developing nor told us when her heart stopped and not allowed for the compassionate scheduling of the most painful day of my life. President Obama respects that those decisions are MY decisions. This tragedy is about MY family. As much as I want a world where abortion does not happen, women every day are in situations they prayed to never be placed in the government should not get involved and leave it in the hands of a compassionate physician.

  3. The Democrats must state the facts. On this alone, President Obama will be re-elected.

  4. If you haven't seen the movie '2016' out in theaters now, I strongly, *strongly* encourage you to do so.

    It is a fact based documentary that shows the public who Barack Obama Jr is...something the American people didn't care about the first time around...they wanted change and boy did they make a mistake.

    Again, go see this movie - and if you walk out with the same opinion of Obama after you clearly were not paying attention.

  5. The Democrats are going to go after Romney's religion; but will they review the promise Obama made in his book?--"I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." He has repeatedly said that "as Americans, we are not and never will be at war with Islam" even though a large part of Islam has declared war on us. He has cultivated ties with Muslims individuals and groups deemed "moderate," and has reduced by six years, the 23 year prison sentence of Alamoudi, found to have funneled over a million dollars to al-Queda.Obama has warmly endorsed the uprising in Africa and the Middle East, despite the fact they established the Muslim Brotherhood as the majority political force in Egypt who are enjoying foreign aid at the expense of our taxpayers. In Dec. 2011, Obama released a new anti-terror strategy that refused to link Islam to terrorism in any way which is very much in line with the Brotherhood's agenda to stomp out "Islamophobia." And the Fort Hood massacre of 13 American soldiers on an Army Base was designated as "workplace violence." But here's the latest...guess who is giving the introductory prayer at the DNC? Why, Muslims, of course!

  6. Thelma Horner, this is current as of Sunday 09/02/12.

    Jummah Prayer (also known as Friday prayer) is a congregational prayer (salaat) that Muslims hold every Friday around noontime. It is mentioned in the Qur'an. Jummah is held every Friday on campus at two locations. Prayers are led by the Chaplain, students, guest Imams and Duke faculty. All are welcome to attend and observe.

    After prayer services, the community gathers together to socialize over lunch offered by Muslim Life at Duke. Jummah on West is a wonderful way to catch up with friends and meet new members to the Duke Muslim community. The DNC supported the prayer.

    The Jummah Prayer is supported by all muslins. There's not an official prayer leader. A group called the BIMA tried to position their organization as the official leader of the prayer to advance an agenda not supported by mainstream America or the DNC. The BIMA place their name along side the DNC in posters and online ads. The DNC did not endorse the BIMA, but supported the prayer. The DNC has publicly made the statement they do not endorse the BIMA or the leaders of the BIMA.

    See if you can find out more. It's important to know the truth.

  7. ..Sorry, Thema not Thelma.

  8. Update....BIMA [Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs] spokesman, and one of the organizers, Jibril Hough opened the program by emphasizing that the Jumah was not endorsed by the DNC.

  9. Longtimevegan - Are you that obtuse not to see the connection? Good grief.

  10. ...@GooGooDolls,

    If researching the facts is being obtuse your comment is a reflection.

    Don't be afraid of facts. Facts are healthy.

    Thanks for your response.

  11. ....@GooGooDoll,

    I see your all in on the movie 2016. Would you call this being Obtuse?

    I wish you well.

  12. God (or is it Allah, Longtimevegan?) forbid you'd want to actually know what your president's world view, that would be too much information.

  13. ...GooGooDoo,

    I see you will not debate the facts. So you revert to a safe haven, name calling.

    Remember, Facts are healthy. I wish you well.