Published Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 | 11:53 a.m.
Updated Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016 | 3:41 p.m.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today kicked off a final round of campaigning and personal appeals to Nevadans ahead of the caucus.
At stops bookending a rally at a local union hall, Clinton mingled with Strip workers, met a black small-business owner and played soccer with young Hispanic children. Many of the community members she met with belong to key demographics that both Clinton and her opponent, Vermont. Sen Bernie Sanders, hope to win over next Saturday.
A win in Nevada's caucuses, the next Democratic contest, is projected to be crucial for both Clinton and Sanders.
This morning, Clinton greeted workers at Harrah’s in an employee cafeteria, urging them to turn out to caucus for her.
"Saturday we need you to caucus," Clinton told the workers. "That's what will make a difference."
One of the workers called out, "We will be there."
Strip workers on shift Saturday will have a chance to caucus at one of six at-large caucus sites, one of which will be at Harrah's.
Clinton’s visit comes as the Culinary Union — the state’s largest union representing 57,000 workers, including those at Harrah's — sits out endorsing ahead of the caucuses. (Both candidates have met with Culinary Union members on previous trips to Las Vegas.)
Clinton also caused a commotion in a café off the main casino floor at Harrah’s, where tourists and other casino goers scrambled to get their picture taken with her.
"Anyone from Nevada?" she asked, to some cheers from the crowd. "We need your help Saturday."
Clinton also made personal appeals to some members of Nevada’s black and Hispanic communities. Nevada has a more diverse population than Iowa or New Hampshire, the last two states to hold Democratic contests. (In 2008, the last competitive Democratic caucus, 65 percent of voters identified as white, 15 percent as Hispanic, and 15 percent as black in exit polls.)
At Gritz Cafe, Clinton met with Trina Joles, the cafe’s owner and a young black woman, and a small group of community members.
“I want to work smarter, not harder,” Joles told Clinton, accompanied by Rory Reid, Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid’s son and Clinton’s Nevada chair for her 2008 campaign, and longtime Clinton advisor Minyon Moore.
Clinton later praised Joles, calling Gritz “a great small business,” at the union hall rally.
Next door to Gritz, Clinton posed for a photo with a group of largely young black women studying at Expertise Cosmetology Institute. The school, which has about 100 students, often hosts voter registration drives and encourages all its students to register to vote, the school’s director, Gwen Braimoh, said.
Braimoh said there was “no question” about who she was voting for next Saturday.
“She’ll be a great president,” Braimoh added.
Later, Clinton played soccer and mingled with families — including many young Hispanic families — at an indoor sports facility.
After Clinton successfully blocked a goal from some young soccer players, Assemblyman Edgar Flores huddled up with the kids, asking them, “On Saturday are we going to remind our parents to go vote?” The kids responded with choruses of "yes."
But Clinton also made a more general appeal to Nevadans at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Henderson.
As she has at previous rallies, Clinton noted how difficult it was for Nevadans during the Great Recession.
“This state was especially hard hit,” Clinton said. “Too many people lost their jobs. Too many people lost their homes.”
“I did,” one audience member yelled out.
Clinton also reminded the crowd of several hundred of her 2008 campaign for president here. Though Clinton won the popular vote in Nevada, then-Sen. Barack Obama ended up with more delegates.
“I remember going door to door in 2008, walking streets and neighborhoods, going into people’s homes who had done everything right and couldn’t keep going,” Clinton said. “Now we are coming back from that, and it was not easy.”
Though she didn’t mention ongoing solar controversy in Nevada, she included renewable energy among a list of sectors for job creation in the country.
“We’re going to have new jobs in infrastructure, in manufacturing and clean renewable energy,” Clinton said. “We’re going to put people across America again, and we’re going to see incomes going up just like we did in the '90s.”
Donna Adamowski, a middle school teacher in Henderson, said the top reason she was voting for Clinton was her stance on women’s issues.
“I like the fact that she’s fighting for women,” Adamowski said. “I’ve watched her over the years and years and years … and she’s still here. Wow, I’m so impressed.”
Both Clinton and Sanders will head to Denver tonight to attend that state’s annual Democratic party dinner.
Sanders will attend a rally at Bonanza High School on Sunday morning. Earlier this week, Clinton’s campaign said she would also campaign Sunday in Nevada, though specifics have not yet been released.
Sanders campaigned in Reno today, meeting with solar workers and attending a progressive summit at UNR. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker attended the summit on Clinton’s behalf. At the same time, one of Sanders' surrogates, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, was in Las Vegas stumping for him Saturday and was scheduled to meet with Culinary Workers at their union hall.