Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Nevada Democratic forum...

I wasn't able to catch all of the televised Nevada forum featuring most of the Democratic presidential contenders. We all know that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama didn't participate due to a "scheduling conflict."

But the action wasn't limited to just the stage at the Carson City convention center and the Associated Press had a nice roundup of what else was going on in Nevada Wednesday. It's become an important state now that it's caucus has been moved up to the week after Iowa's caucus, and a week before the New Hampshire primary.

From the AP this morning:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is banking on his Western roots and policy experience to get a leg up in the newly important Nevada caucus. But the governor didn't want to get into too many specifics Wednesday.

In brief remarks to about 300 Democrats who gathered at a local newspaper's conference room to watch the presidential candidates forum aired live on C-SPAN, Richardson touched on several key Nevada issues, saying he's opposed to nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain and wants to find ways to free up federal land.

But the governor had nothing to say on southern Nevada water officials' current answer to sustaining Nevada's massive growth: a multibillion water pipeline that will pump water from rural counties to Las Vegas. The issue is a prickly one within state, dividing north from south and urban from rural, and uniting environmentalists with ranchers afraid the plan could damage ecosystems.

"I'll get into those issues a little later," Richardson said.


While they didn't stuff the hallways quite like Sen. Hillary Clinton, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd and former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack both took time to meet with state Democratic lawmakers, lobbyists, and staffers hoping for a quick chat or a photograph in the state legislative building.

Dodd met with a crowd of fans in Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus' office, about 10 minutes after Clinton's entourage had cleared out. Dodd took a minute to practice his Spanish language skills while speaking to Assemblyman Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, who recently delivered the national Democratic Hispanic radio address, telling Spanish-speaking voters they stand to play a major role in the 2008 presidential elections.


Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought a crowd of 300 people to its feet Wednesday at a newspaper office with a roaring speech in which he called for Congress to deny funding for the Iraq war.

"Bring the troops home!" Kucinich thundered three times to a whooping and whistling crowd at The Nevada Appeal.

He also jabbed at his opponents who voted for war.

Kucinich was accompanied by a tall, striking redheade a contrast to his 2004 presidential campaign, when his single status stood out among other candidates: Kucinich, 60, married British citizen Elizabeth Harper, then 27, in August 2005, a few months after meeting her, and the two spent much of time holding hands Wednesday. The twice-divorced congressman's single status made headlines in 2004, when he told New Hampshire campaign audiences that he was seeking a mate. Women then vied for a date with him during a contest arranged by a political Web site, but nothing romantic evolved from Kucinich's breakfast with the winner.


New York Sen. Hillary Clinton told Nevada Democrats on Wednesday that when she first heard about the presidential candidates forum in Carson City, she didn't think she could make it.

"Harry, I'm supposed to be somewhere else," she told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when he gave her the date a few weeks ago.

"Well, we'll sure miss you," Reid responded.

Clinton told the story to a packed room at The Nevada Appeal, saying she'd flown all night from Florida rather than miss the forum, perhaps taking a shot at Sen. Barack Obama, who did not attend the forum. Obama, D-Ill., was campaigning in Iowa instead. He headlined a Las Vegas rally over the weekend and was in California on Tuesday for a major Hollywood fundraiser.



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