Warren, Trump Headline Dueling Nev. Conventions

Jun 24, 2018

On the same day President Donald Trump visited Las Vegas for the state Republican convention, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren headlined the Democratic event in Reno. Her appearance comes at a crucial time for state Democrats who have to decide just how progressive they want to be in the run-up to this November's general election. 

Sen. Warren has made a name for herself on Capitol Hill, crusading against big banks and speaking as a premier progressive voice on the national stage. In Nevada, Warren plugged the campaign of Representative Jacky Rosen, the Democrat running to oust Republican Senator Dean Heller. She also encouraged the room to vote Democrat up and down the whole ballot and hit hard against President Trump.

"He has called immigrants animals," Warren said. "He has complained about immigrants coming here from 'shithole' countries, and now, Trump wants to create new family detention camps to lock up more people, triggering a whole new crisis. That's what Donald Trump and his Republican enablers stand for." 

Defeating Trump and Republicans was a recurring theme Saturday, galvanizing the Democrats in the room. Signs that said "repeal and replace Dean Heller" were peppered throughout the audience, and every single speaker took time to attack their GOP counterparts. 

"There is so much to do, so much work to hose out the Washington cesspool that Donald Trump has created," Warren said. "He can whine, he can lie, he can tweet until his thumbs fall off, but we're going to keep fighting back. We're going to keep fighting for the country we love." 

An attendee holds up a sign at the Democratic State Convention in Reno, Nevada on Saturday, June 23, 2018.
Credit Jacob Solis

Despite that unity against Republicans, Democrats nationally have struggled to draw together the two halves of their party, the moderates and the progressives. Nevada is no different. Democrats in Reno have historically embraced more liberal candidates — choosing people like recently defeated gubernatorial candidate Chris Giunchigliani. Dems in Las Vegas, likewise, tend to pick the establishment choice, as they did with Steve Sisolak, a self-described moderate.

Sisolak mentioned his loss in Washoe, though he didn't linger on it.

"I'm going to be candid here," Sisolak said. "I know some of you voted for someone else a couple of weeks ago. I respect that, and that's okay. I want to earn you support and I want to earn your vote. But this is what I ask of you: Let's work together now."

Sisolak later couched his campaign as a bulwark against his Republican opponent, Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who won his own party's primary in a 60-point landslide.

Down South, the attacks ran the other way as President Trump delivered remarks in Las Vegas. Those remarks largely reflected the off-the-cuff speaking style that has defined his presidency, such as when he spoke about Democrat Jacky Rosen.

"Wacky Jacky has — you don't want her as your senator, you don't want her as your senator," Trump said. "Now, that name didn't come from me; that's a name that people have known, because, people that know her, that's what they call her. Wacky Jacky, that's what they call her. That's what you want for your senator?" 

Republicans Dean Heller and Adam Laxalt took on a similar tone, Laxalt even going so far as to dub his opponent Sisolak as "Shady Steve" before he accused the Democrat of "choking Clark County with red tape."

Trump also touted good economic indicators and pushed back on Democratic opposition to family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Our issue is: Strong borders, no crime. Their issue is: Open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That's what's gonna happen," Trump said. 

Nevada Republicans have seen a shift since 2016 toward supporting the president more fully, with major candidates, from Laxalt to Heller to Danny Tarkanian in Las Vegas, firmly aligning themselves with Trump.

Nevadans will head to the polls on November 6.