Sanders wins decisively in Nevada, Biden headed for second-place finish

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raises his fist as he arrives onstage after winning the Nevada caucuses during a campaign rally at Cowboys Dancehall. (File/Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America /AFP)
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Updated 23 February 2020

Sanders wins decisively in Nevada, Biden headed for second-place finish

  • Self-described democratic socialist, Sanders was backed by a diverse coalition of voters
  • The race now begins to broaden across the country, with the next primary on Feb. 29 in South Carolina

LAS VEGAS: Bernie Sanders strengthened his front-runner position for the Democratic presidential nomination with a decisive victory in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, while Joe Biden was on track for a second-place finish that would give his struggling campaign new hope.
A self-described democratic socialist, Sanders was backed by a diverse coalition of young and middle-aged voters, Latinos, union members and white college-educated women for the win in Nevada, according to Edison Research, showing signs of expanding support for his surging campaign beyond his longstanding core.
“We have put together a multi-generational, multiracial coalition that is going to not only win in Nevada, it’s going to sweep the country,” Sanders, a US senator from Vermont, told cheering supporters in San Antonio, Texas.
Biden, a former vice president, appeared to score a badly needed strong finish after poor showings in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire for the party’s nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November election.
Sanders’ triumph in the first racially diverse state suggests his unapologetic message of social and economic justice, including his signature pledge to provide universal health care for all Americans, is resonating with a broader coalition of Democratic voters.
For Biden and other moderates who argue that Sanders is too liberal to beat Trump and who have been trying to blunt his momentum, however, the job has become much harder.
Sanders had 47% of the county convention delegates in Nevada with 50% of the precincts reported. Biden was a distant second to Sanders with 19%, but ahead of former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, 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.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had been looking to jump-start her campaign after poor finishes in the first two states, was again trailing in a disappointing fourth with more than 10% in Nevada, where voters poured into more than 250 sites around the state. Senator Amy Klobuchar and activist billionaire Tom Steyer were well back at around 4%.
Buttigieg cautioned Democrats about nominating Sanders, portraying him as an ideologue.
“We can prioritize either ideological purity or inclusive victory. We can either call people names online or we can call them into our movement. We can either tighten a narrow and hardcore base or open the tent to a new, broad, big-hearted American coalition,” Buttigieg told supporters in Las Vegas.
Despite another poor showing in Nevada, Warren said she got a boost in fundraising and support from an aggressive debate performance on Wednesday — which came too late to affect early voting in the state.
“We have a lot of states to go, and right now I can feel the momentum,” Warren said at a rally in Seattle.
The race now begins to broaden across the country, with the next primary on Feb. 29 in South Carolina, followed by the Super Tuesday contests in 14 states on March 3 that pick more than one-third of the pledged delegates who will help select a Democratic nominee.

Bloomberg looms in race
Biden, vice president under former President Barack Obama, is counting on a strong showing in South Carolina, which has a large bloc of black voters. In Nevada, entrance polls showed Biden led among African Americans with 36%, followed by Sanders with 27%.
The Super Tuesday states will bring former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has not been competing in the four early voting states but has been rising in opinion polls, into the race.
“The Nevada results reinforce the reality that this fragmented field is putting Bernie Sanders on pace to amass an insurmountable delegate lead,” Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey said in a statement.
On Twitter, Trump appeared to be enjoying the Democratic race.
“Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike,” Trump wrote, the last a reference to Bloomberg.
Nevada caucus officials and voters at multiple sites on Saturday reported voting rules confusion, calculation glitches and delays in reporting tallies — despite efforts to avoid the issues that plagued Iowa’s caucuses earlier this month.
After a technical meltdown delayed results in Iowa, state officials promised a revised reporting system using a telephone hotline and photos of caucus reporting sheets would ensure a smoother process. Nevertheless, precinct chairs at some caucuses experienced long waits on the phone lines.
In the final result of a caucus at the famed Bellagio hotel on the Las Vegas strip, Sanders finished with 76 votes, Biden had 45 and no other candidate ended with a vote.
Workers at the hotel, who are members of the Culinary Workers Union, streamed out of the caucus after backing Sanders despite their leadership expressing reservations about his health care plan.
“I went for Bernie. I’m not big into politics, but I like the things he’s going for: student loan debt, schools, free health care,” said Aleiza Smith, 22, a housekeeper at the Bellagio.
Sanders was aided in Nevada by strong support from the six in 10 voters who said they backed a government-run Medicare for All, the Edison entrance poll showed.
It showed that Sanders led across all age groups except for those older than 65. Around 54% of Latino voters said they backed him, while 24% of college-educated white women and 34% of those who have a union member in their families supported him.


Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

Updated 01 April 2020

Coronavirus worst crisis since Second World War, UN boss says as deaths surge

  • Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown
  • Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science

WASHINGTON: The global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen Wednesday despite unprecedented lockdowns, as the head of the United Nations sounded the alarm on what he said was humanity’s worst crisis since World War II.
The warning came as Donald Trump told Americans to brace for a “very painful” few weeks after the United States registered its deadliest 24 hours of the crisis.
Around half of the planet’s population is under some form of lockdown as governments struggle to halt the spread of a disease that has now infected more than 850,000 people.
Well over 40,000 are known to have died, half of them in Italy and Spain, but the death toll continues to rise with new records being logged daily in the US.
“This is going to be a very painful — a very, very painful — two weeks,” Trump said, describing the pandemic as “a plague.”
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.”
America’s outbreak has mushroomed rapidly. There are now around 190,000 known cases — a figure that has doubled in just five days.
On Tuesday, a record 865 people died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, taking the national toll so far to more than 4,000.
Members of Trump’s coronavirus task force said the country should be ready for between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the coming months.
“As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
America’s under-pressure health system is being supplemented by field hospitals sprouting up all over New York, including a tented camp in Central Park, a hospital ship and converted convention centers.
But even with the extended capacity, doctors say they are still having to make painful choices.
“If you get a surge of patients coming in, and you only have a limited number of ventilators, you can’t necessarily ventilate patients,” Shamit Patel of the Beth Israel hospital said. “And then you have to start picking and choosing.”
The extraordinary economic and political upheaval spurred by the virus presents a real danger to the relative peace the world has seen over the last few decades, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday.
The “disease ... represents a threat to everybody in the world and... an economic impact that will bring a recession that probably has no parallel in the recent past.”
“The combination of the two facts and the risk that it contributes to enhanced instability, enhanced unrest, and enhanced conflict are things that make us believe that this is the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War,” he said.
In virtual talks Tuesday, finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 major economies pledged to address the debt burden of low-income countries and deliver aid to emerging markets.
Last week G20 leaders said they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to head off a feared deep recession.
In the European Union, however, battle lines have been drawn over the terms of a rescue plan.
Worst-hit Italy and Spain are leading a push for a shared debt instrument — dubbed “coronabonds.”
But talk of shared debt is a red line for Germany and other northern countries, threatening to divide the bloc.
Deaths shot up again across Europe. While there are hopeful signs that the spread of infections is slowing in hardest-hit Italy and Spain, which both reported more than 800 new deaths Tuesday.
France recorded a one-day record of 499 dead while Britain reported 381 coronavirus deaths, including that of a previously healthy 13-year-old.
That came after a 12-year-old Belgian girl succumbed to an illness that is serious chiefly for older, frailer people with pre-existing health conditions.
Lockdowns remain at the forefront of official disease-stopping arsenals — a strategy increasingly borne-out by science.
Researchers said China’s decision to shutter Wuhan, ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic, may have prevented three-quarters of a million new cases by delaying the spread of the virus.
“Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan” by mid-February, said Oxford University’s Christopher Dye.