By Jacob Solis
Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and in many measures the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made her second stop in the Biggest Little City on Monday, Nov. 23 at Pine Middle School. The stop brought over 500 people of all ages into the school’s small gymnasium. Clinton last visited Reno in June when she hosted a roundtable discussion with local veterans.
Aside from her general campaign rhetoric on Clinton took a sizable chunk of her time on stage taking aim at her Republican counterparts, attacking everything from their rhetoric to their policies.
“[In 2001], we were on a path to pay down the national debt, but the Republican president who followed my husband had different ideas about what should happen,” Clinton said. “He began dismantling that fiscal, responsible agenda, literally piece by piece. They cut taxes on the wealthy, got out of the way of corporations, took their eyes off the financial market and the mortgage market and you know what happens next.”
The renewed emphasis on highlighting her differences with Republicans looks to be part of new strategy from the Clinton camp aimed at taking support away from her chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, according to The New York Times. Sanders has steadily chipped away at Clinton’s lead in the polls over the past few months, especially in New Hampshire, where Sanders currently leads Clinton in most polls.
“By turning up the heat on Republicans, going after Trump, that’s all part of the essence of saying, ‘I am the leader of the Democratic Party,’” said Robert Shrum, a Democratic strategist, in an interview with The New York Times.
Clinton has recently made up ground in the polls against Sanders. In the latest CBS/YouGov poll, Clinton maintained her six-point lead in Iowa while cutting into Sanders’ seven-point lead in New Hampshire, two key early primary states. However, it should be noted that the margin of error on these polls range from six to seven points, making the poll itself little more than a very general barometer of voter allegiance in these key states.
In any case, Clinton’s experience as secretary of state seems to have played in her favor in the wake of the Paris attacks, as the same CBS poll found that 80 percent of respondents felt she was ready to be commander-in-chief. Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received noticeably fewer votes of confidence on foreign affairs, and many voters found that they didn’t know enough about O’Malley to make a judgment call.
In Pine Middle School’s gym, Clinton renewed calls she made last week for coalition forces to increase the efforts to take out the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, but was sure to mention that she did not want combat troops fighting on the ground in Syria.
“I believe strongly that we must defeat ISIS,” Clinton said. “We must end their murderous reign and prevent them from not only continuing to wreak havoc, terror and violence in the area where they are operating, but to export it … we will fight them from the air, we will fight them from advising, training and special forces on the ground, and we will fight them online.”
Back on the domestic front, Clinton has also made significant strides in the so-called “invisible primary,” or the race to win the endorsements of Congress and state governors. In their tracking of the invisible primary, FiveThirtyEight found that Clinton was endorsed by 17 politicians within the last week, bringing her total endorsements to 187. This is compared to Sanders’ two endorsements and O’Malley’s one. These figures haven’t been seen since George W. Bush ran for president in 2000.
Even in Nevada, Clinton has locked up the support of Congresswoman Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, the only House Democrat in the state, and invited Nevada Assemblywoman Amber Joiner to help introduce her to the crowd.
All these numbers have led to plenty of talk that Clinton is the sure-fire choice for the Democratic Party. Even so, Clinton has had trouble convincing voters of her likability, and her favorability ratings in the polls have been some of the lowest in the entire field.
Those numbers haven’t stopped some Reno youths from putting their support behind Clinton.
“I have a very solid respect for Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders,” said Joko Cailles, a student from Wooster High School and occasional volunteer with the Clinton campaign. “But I think Hillary Clinton has enough experience and is pragmatic enough that she would make the best president out of the three.”
Clinton has also found support among some college students. UNR student and head of the Nevada Students for Hillary club Courtney McKimmey opened up for Clinton while elsewhere, student Shane Scott helped volunteer on the sidelines.
“I really like Hillary Clinton because she’s a progressive that likes to get things done and I would really like it if she would be our next president,” Scott said. “ She likes to get things done, she likes to work with the other side, compromise and not maybe give up the farm.”
Whether or not Clinton will be able to get things done will have to wait until after the primary season, which broke her campaign in 2008 after then-senator Barack Obama took a commanding lead in the middle of the year. With early polling remaining largely inaccurate, only time will tell whether or not Scott, McKimmey and Cailles see another Clinton in the White House.
The next Democratic Debate is scheduled for Dec. 19.
Jacob Solis can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.