Bill Clinton implores Nevada voters: ‘This is not a cartoon. This is real life’

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·National Correspondent
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Former President Bill Clinton at a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Photo: John Locher/AP)

PAHRUMP, Nev. — While Hillary Clinton was going door-to-door through the snowy streets of Manchester, N.H., Saturday, in a last-ditch effort to stir up support ahead of Tuesday’s primary, her most valuable asset with voters was taking the stage in a tiny elementary school here nearly 3,000 miles away.

A couple of hundred people had turned out to hear former President Bill Clinton campaign on behalf of his wife — a substantial crowd in this sparse desert town about an hour west of Las Vegas. Though Nevada’s Democratic caucuses aren’t for another two weeks, the former president was dispatched here to rally the troops in what could be a crucial state for Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination — especially if she loses in New Hampshire to her rival Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, as many polls suggest she will.

Nevada has long been considered an easy win for Hillary Clinton, but given the split vote in Iowa and Sanders’ gains nationally in recent weeks, her campaign no longer seems willing to leave anything to chance. On Friday night, President Clinton held a rally at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters training center in Las Vegas, which was followed less than 24 hours later by a swing through this former gold-mining town, which backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 caucuses.

Taking the stage on Saturday, Bill Clinton sought to cast his wife as someone who has the “best vision” for the presidency. But he bluntly acknowledged the tough race his wife faces in winning the Democratic nomination. He spoke of the anger among voters that has changed the dynamics of the campaign — and openly worried that it could negatively impact the future of the country if voters vote based on emotion rather than reason. And though he did not identify any candidate by name, he warned those here of being influenced by politicians intentionally stoking voter anger in order to win.

“Most people don’t make good decisions when they are mad,” Clinton said.

“Look,” he later added. “I understand why we’ve got a race on our hands, because a lot of people are disillusioned with the system and a lot of young people want to take it down. … I understand what it’s like for people who haven’t had a raise in eight years. There are a lot of reasons [to be angry]. But this is not a cartoon. This is real life.”

Throughout his stops here, Clinton repeatedly spoke of his own time in the White House — recalling how his administration had helped bring the country back from the brink of financial disaster, and implying his wife could do it again. Several times, he spoke of the important role Nevada played in his own political rise. Defying political odds, Clinton said, he won the state twice in the general election.

And when people started to applaud at one point, the former president abruptly interrupted.

“I don’t want you to clap for me,” Clinton said. “I just want you to give me credit for having the good sense about what is good for you in this election.”

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