LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought his core campaign themes to a backyard meet-and-greet in Las Vegas on Monday, continuing a swing through Nevada that included talks with veterans’ groups and union members and rallies in Reno and Las Vegas.
In a brief speech before posing for individual photos, the senator from Vermont warned of “dark money” influences in politics and said he would fight for an increase in the minimum hourly wage, battle “income inequality” and appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would uphold limits on government influence by moneyed interests.
“The other side has more money than we have, that’s true,” said Sanders, a longtime independent and self-styled populist who aligns himself to the left of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and far from the Republican field of candidates.
He said he was proud to be the recipient of millions of small-money donations rather than the beneficiary of billionaire patrons.
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The event in Las Vegas was a Women’s Leaders Lunch, attended by almost 100 party invitees at the home of former Democratic congressional candidate Erin Bilbray.
It came after Sanders drew a Sunday evening audience at a Reno conference hall that the Reno Gazette-Journal put at about 2,000 people.
Bilbray, who lost a 2014 bid for Congress to Republican Joe Heck, is one of 712 Democratic National Committee “superdelegates” allowed to support the candidate of their choice at the party convention in Philadelphia in July. She said she’ll vote for Sanders.
The backyard listeners heard Sanders’ stump speech standards: taxing the wealthy, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, instituting single-payer national health care, achieving pay equity for women, encouraging free public university tuition, overhauling the criminal justice system.
Sanders also called for party solidarity to avoid “letting opponents divide us up by race or gender or where we were born or by whether we’re gay or straight or whatever.”
Sanders said he felt confident he’s building support in Iowa and New Hampshire, early caucus and primary states where voters will choose candidates just ahead of Nevada’s Feb. 20 Democratic precinct caucuses.