Friday, Sept. 21, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The country’s improving economy and the need to vote to keep pushing Republican issues forward were key themes of President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Las Vegas last night.
He urged the crowd to vote this midterm and support 4th Congressional District candidate Cresent Hardy, 3rd Congressional District candidate Danny Tarkanian and gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt. Trump said that while he and Heller used to fight, now they “love” each other.
“I have to say this, we started out, we weren’t friends,” Trump said of Heller. “I didn’t like him, he didn’t like me. And as we fought and fought and fought, believe it or not, we started to respect each other, then we started to like each other, then we started to love each other. The fact is he has been a tremendous supporter ever since I won the election, he’s always been there.”
Heller was equally complimentary: "Mr. President, I think you just turned Nevada red today."
Trump has appeared at more than a dozen campaign events in Nevada, where Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state’s six electoral college votes in 2016 by roughly 2.4 percent. Heller ultimately voted for Obamacare repeal after speaking against a GOP repeal plan that would “pull the rug” out from under thousands of Nevada residents. Trump pointed to Heller’s support of tax reform and veterans issues.
Trump urged Republicans to vote, saying the party that wins the presidency cannot get complacent.
The line to get into the rally stretched the length of almost the entire convention center, with lines of cars backed up to park before the doors opened at 4 p.m. Inside, cheers of “U-S-A,” “lock her up” in reference to Democrat Hillary Clinton, and “build the wall” broke out periodically. Convention center security estimates the crowd was between 7,500 and 10,000 inside the venue, with another 10,000 turned away due to capacity issues.
Trump bragged that “the people of Nevada love our country” and “America is winning again.”
Red “Make America Great Again” hats were prevalent, and some wore “fake news” T-shirts and other MAGA apparel. Some attendees took photos or video of the media covering the event. Supporters outside the rally expressed support for Trump’s immigration and economic policies.
Trump incited boos from the crowd with his criticism of the media, saying they are galvanizing the left and would go bankrupt without supporting him.
Hardy, who faces Democrat Steven Horsford in November, Tarkanian, who’s up against Democrat Susie Lee, and Laxalt, facing Democrat Steve Sisolak, all spoke during the event and praised the president’s economic policies.
“That progress isn’t just here in Nevada,” Hardy said. “It’s in every state across this country. We are experiencing a growing economy to something I’ve never seen in my lifetime. We have to thank President Donald Trump and his administration.”
Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald introduced Tarkanian, a frequent candidate for office in Nevada, as a “loyal” Republican. Tarkanian also spoke in favor of the president’s economic policies.
“How many of you have been attacked or criticized for supporting president Trump?” he asked, drawing cheers from the crowd. “I know I have, and I haven’t regretted it one single minute … because I believe very strongly in President Trump’s America-first policies.”
Laxalt reiterated his campaign’s anti-California message, saying Nevada did not want the same issues with homelessness, crime and efforts to ban plastic straws. He said the future of Nevada is at stake.
“The far left has become unhinged,” Laxalt said.
Progressive groups protested outside the venue as well as at a rally the day before Trump was set to visit. Battle Born Progress Executive Director Annette Magnus said groups were expecting at least a couple hundred protesters. She said there is just as much support on the progressive side of the issues as the long lines and traffic from supporters looking to get into the rally.
One detractor chanted, “We believe women, we believe women” in response to Trump’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, who last week was accused of a sexual assault decades ago.
“I don’t think anybody can send a message to Donald Trump,” Magnus said. “I don’t think he listens to anybody, especially when reason or logic are involved, but we do need to send a message to Nevadans tonight that Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt are no different than Donald Trump, their rhetoric is exactly the same, their policies are exactly the same.”