Buoyed by the support of enthusiastic workers in the city’s big casinos, Hillary Clinton defeated Senator Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, thwarting his momentum and proving to an anxious Democratic Party that she maintains strong support among minority voters that she can carry into a general election.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign breathed a sign of relief on Saturday as the results of the often-unpredictable campaign began to roll in. At a caucus at the famed Caesar’s Palace, blackjack dealers, pit bosses, cooks and housekeepers excitedly declared their support for the former secretary of state.
“She’ll change immigration. She’ll change the economy. She’ll change todo!” said Dora Gonzalez, 54, a casino porter at the Bellagio, using the Spanish word for everything
“And she’s a mujer!” added her friend Elba Pinera, 51, and originally from Honduras, using the Spanish word for woman.
Mrs. Clinton had for months considered Nevada a safe haven that would provide a welcome shift from the mostly white electorates of New Hampshire and Iowa. But in recent weeks, Mr. Sanders’s populist message began to take hold and polls showed the two Democrats in a statistical dead heat. Her campaign, bracing for another loss, seemed to look beyond Nevada to the contest next weekend in South Carolina.
Still, early organizing in the state and a last minute on-the-ground push by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign and its supporters in recent days paid off. And the former secretary of state, who is typically a reserved presence on the trail, seemed to embrace the quirkiness of campaigning in Las Vegas, posing for photographs with Britney Spears, who was on a break from her show at Planet Hollywood, and even receiving the endorsement of 500 sex workers, mostly from Carson City brothels, who formed the “Hookers 4 Hillary” group.
Less than an hour before the caucuses began, Mrs. Clinton was shaking hands in the employee cafeteria at Harrah’s casino. “I need your help this morning, in the showroom at 11 a.m.,” she told the predominantly Spanish-speaking workers.
Mrs. Clinton’s victory was a serious setback for Mr. Sanders, who campaigned hard in Nevada in hopes that a surge of Latino and black voters would heed his call for a political revolution.
SOURCE: AMY CHOZICK and PATRICK HEALY
The New York Times