Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2018

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Groups rally against Trump day before presidential visit

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Steve Marcus

Regina Toney, left, a communications specialist with the SEIU Union, and Lindsey Harmon, executive director for Nevada Advocates For Planned Parenthood Affiliates, cheer during a “Hop on the Progress Bus” news conference on West Sahara Avenue Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. A coalition of progressive groups joined to hold the news conference a day before President Trump’s visit to Las Vegas.

"Hop On The Progress Bus" News Conference

An image of President Donald Trump is displayed during a Launch slideshow »

President Donald Trump’s planned campaign visit in Nevada on Thursday is spurring protests from progressive groups that oppose his administration’s policies.

Nevada Advocates For Planned Parenthood were among the organizations to gather this morning in Las Vegas to warn against GOP policies going backward on health care, reproductive rights and the environment. The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh was prominent for many speakers, especially in light of a recent sexual misconduct accusation against him.

“These allegations by Dr. Christine Ford further disqualify Brett Kavanaugh, and it is crystal clear that he should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court,” said Lindsey Harmon, executive director of Nevada Advocates For Planned Parenthood.

Democrats renewed their calls to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation process after the accusation against the nominee became public.

Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller has expressed support for Kavanaugh’s nomination and said in a statement today that Kavanaugh’s accuser should “share her information” with the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Some other Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also said Ford should testify before the committee.

“Given the gravity of this appointment and this accusation, I would hope that all senators, regardless of party, will work with Chairman Grassley in good faith,” Heller said.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who had been waiting to meet with Kavanaugh before deciding whether to support his nomination, said in a statement today that she opposes his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

“After carefully reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s record and listening to his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have determined that his stance on a woman’s right to choose is extreme and disqualifies him from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” she said.

The progressive groups were joining together to call on Heller to pull his support for Kavanaugh and demand an investigation, Harmon said. Kavanaugh’s accuser has called for an investigation by the FBI.

Kavanaugh’s supporters say he has already been investigated by the FBI as part of the nomination process. President Donald Trump told reporters today that he wants the Senate process to unfold. He praised Kavanaugh’s record and said he and his family have “been treated very, very tough.”

“I really would want to see what she has to say,” Trump said of Ford, noting that he wants senators to take the time they need.

Harmon said a leaked email from Kavanaugh shows he thinks abortion rights case Roe. v. Wade can be overturned. She also pointed to his role in a case that delayed the abortion of a Central American immigrant in federal custody. Choice is a deciding factor for many voters, she said.

“Women are mobilizing around this issue, and I think women recognize that the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a real possibility, and we are not going to let that happen,” Harmon said.

Sierra Bumanglag, an organizer with youth voter registration group NextGen, said young people are growing as a progressive, diverse voting bloc. She said where one of the top issues to young voters was the cost of college tuition, gun control and threats to reproductive rights are increasingly coming to the forefront and galvanizing voters ages 18 to 35.

Nevada’s active registered voters ages 18 to 24 are up by nearly 38.5 percent from August 2014, the last midterm election, and almost 42 percent among those 25 to 34, according to Nevada secretary of state data.

Bumanglag said Kavanaugh’s appointment could roll back reproductive rights to the 1960s with the possible reversal of Roe. She said further GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood over abortion would particularly hurt young people, some of whom receive their only health care through Planned Parenthood.

“That impacts a lot of us all directly,” Bumanglag said.

Advocates at the rally today also expressed concern over the president’s handling of Hurricane Maria, where he has praised the government’s response, despite a death toll that experts say is thousands higher than originally estimated.

Frances Cintron of the group Make The Road said she saw the destruction in Puerto Rico firsthand, and the lack of support for recovery from the president shows he wants to “demoralize” the community.

“Today, on the verge of the year (anniversary) of this tragedy, what really hurts is the indifference and the lack of humanity of the current president, Donald Trump, toward the Puerto Rican community, minimizing the great losses that we have suffered — 3,000 lives, directly and indirectly, from the hurricane,” she said.

Quentin Savwoir, deputy field director for Make It Work, said the group supports eliminating the gender pay gap, a disparity of roughly 20 cents on the dollar earned by men compared to women, with an even larger disparity for women of color.

The Trump administration has rolled back some Obama-era policies aimed at reducing the gap, such as requiring reporting from certain companies.

“The Trump agenda overlooks working-class families that in Clark County are disproportionately led by women of color,” he said. “They are the true silent majority and are constantly left behind.”

Andy Maggi, executive director of the Nevada Conservation League, said deregulation efforts are chipping away at policies that have, for decades, helped reduce pollution and improve safety. Trump has moved to roll back the Clean Power Plan, which Kavanaugh has written against, Maggi said.

Clean air is an issue that impacts people every day, Maggi said. The American Lung Association ranks Las Vegas 12 out of 227 cities for worst smog.

Kavanaugh has “routinely questioned” the regulatory authority of the government to put protections in place when it comes to clean water and air, Maggi said. “His record is long; it’s dangerous for our communities and our environment,” he said.

Trump is expected to rally Republicans at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Progressive groups are planning a counterrally near the event.