Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 | 9:45 p.m.
With less than two months remaining before the Nevada caucuses, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke in North Las Vegas before an overflow crowd of 3,200 supporters, according to a count by the school’s assistant principal, calling for a “political revolution” to transform the United States.
In an aside to his stump speech, he also touched on local issues, calling the Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision to add new fees to residential solar customers, “just about the dumbest thing I have ever heard. We should be making it easier, not harder for people to go solar.”
Sanders also decried the influence of Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, saying that the nation’s earliest caucus was not in Iowa or Nevada, but among GOP candidates vying for the casino magnate’s support. “Brothers and sisters,” said Sanders, “this is not democracy, this is oligarchy.”
His message resonated with Soel Thompson, a 17-year-old high school student who was attending his third Sanders campaign event. “He’s very honest and trustworthy,” said Thompson, who has a Sanders sticker on his marching band trumpet. “I don’t think Hillary Clinton is.”
Sanders, who leads the former secretary of state in New Hampshire and is closing ground in Iowa, also announced today the support today of Erin Bilbray-Kohn, one of Nevada’s superdelegates, Democratic Party leaders who directly cast votes at the convention to select the nominee. She becomes one of only a few superdelegates to formally back the senator.
Although Sanders trails Clinton badly among superdelegates, he has otherwise mounted a strong challenge from the former first lady’s left, in evidence at tonight’s rally, in which Sanders decried income inequality, climate change and institutional racism.
“We are going to tell (Donald) Trump that no, we are not going to hate Latinos. We are not going to hate Muslims. We are going to stand together and address the real issues that face this country,” said Sanders.
In the Democratic debate on Dec. 19, Sanders and Clinton disagreed over spending policy, with the senator arguing for an increase in payroll taxes to support an expansion of paid family leave, a proposal that Clinton, who has vowed not to raise taxes on those making less that $250,000 a year, rejected. Sanders reiterated his proposal to require three months of leave from work for new parents.
Prior to the event, Sanders spoke to a group of veterans in Las Vegas this afternoon about reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs and his status as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. “I was prepared to go to jail,” he said.
Although public opinion polls have been scant in Nevada, a CNN survey in October found Clinton with the support of 50 percent of likely caucus-goers, with Sanders at 34 percent. At about the same time in 2007, Clinton had 51 percent of likely caucus-goers in Nevada, with Obama at 34 percent.
Sanders begins a three-day campaign swing in Iowa on Tuesday.