US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders celebrates with his wife Jane after being declared the winner of the Nevada caucus as he holds a campaign rally in San Antonio, Texas, the US, February 22 2020. Picture: REUTERS/CALLAGHAN O'HARE
US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders celebrates with his wife Jane after being declared the winner of the Nevada caucus as he holds a campaign rally in San Antonio, Texas, the US, February 22 2020. Picture: REUTERS/CALLAGHAN O'HARE

Las Vegas — Broad-based support across age, racial and ideological groups propelled Bernie Sanders to a dominant victory in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, tightening his grip on the front-runner spot in the race to find a challenger to President Donald Trump.

Joe Biden, a former vice-president, appeared headed to a badly needed second-place finish in Nevada after poor showings earlier in February in the first two nominating contests in the Democratic presidential race ahead of the November 3 election.

Sanders’ triumph on Saturday in the first racially diverse state in the campaign suggested he was reaching a broader coalition of Democratic voters with his unapologetic message of social and economic justice, including his signature pledge to provide universal health care for all Americans.

For Biden and other moderates who argue Sanders is too liberal to beat Trump and who have been trying to blunt his momentum, however, the Nevada results made the job much harder.

“We have put together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition that is going to not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep the country,” Sanders, a US senator from Vermont and self-described democratic socialist, told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.

He then turned his attention to Trump.

‘Sick and tired of Trump’

“We are going to win across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time,” he said.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House as he departed for a trip to India, said Nevada was a “great win” for Sanders, adding that he did not care who his opponent would be.

By Sunday morning, with 50% of the precincts reporting, Sanders had 47% of the county convention delegates in Nevada. Biden was a distant second to Sanders with 19%, but ahead of former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, in third place with 15%.

“The press is ready to declare people dead quickly, but we’re alive and we’re coming back and we’re gonna win,” Biden told supporters in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

In a pre-recorded interview set to air on Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation, Biden said he was confident he could win the next contest on Saturday in South Carolina with support from African-Americans, according to a transcript.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had been looking to jump-start her campaign after poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, trailed in a disappointing fourth place with 10% in Nevada. Senator Amy Klobuchar and activist billionaire Tom Steyer were well back at 5% and 4%, respectively.

Reuters