Originally Published on NevadaNewsmakers.com, 8/29/2007 1:31:13 PM
We’re not Las Vegas. We’re not Elko. We are the middle child, neither as glitzy and sophisticated as our big sister to the south, nor as small and charming as our rural sisters.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!… or is Vegas, Vegas, Vegas a more suitable lament for Reno? Presidential candidates shower our big sister with attention, and feel the political imperative to court our rural sisters. But Reno often gets spouses and surrogates. And almost all of the candidates were quite comfortable passing up a uniquely formatted event in Reno last week, designed by the Brookings Institution and hosted at UNR. As originally conceived, the forum would have afforded each of the top four candidates in each party an uninterrupted half-hour to talk.
Mitt Romney skipped that event, but within 24 hours of it, he made an appearance at the Mount Rose ski lodge to cheer on the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games Coalition in its effort to win the 2018 Olympics. At that meeting, Romney offered a lyrical account of what it means to be an Olympic host city. (At least twice during his presentation, the Reasonable Reporter, who abhors crowds and cares nothing about sports, caught herself hoping fervently for a chance to be a volunteer ticket taker at the Reno-Tahoe games, or to be tasked with clearing snow from the bleachers, for the sheer experience of having played a tiny role in the Olympic tradition. Could this be an indicator of Romney’s ability to persuade less passionately partisan general election voters?)
From the Mount Rose meeting, Romney headed for a private Tahoe fund raising event. He had just been in Elko and Las Vegas, but no room on his calendar for the UNR forum. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Just a few weeks back, Hillary Clinton was caught, in the moments following a public debate, in a still-audible, off-mic exchange with John Edwards about the need for an event that would free up the time used by the Gravels and Kuciniches, and allow the serious candidates – i.e. those with a prayer of winning – to thoroughly discuss the issues. The University of Nevada event was just such an opportunity, but it was not on her calendar either.
As the Reno forum unfolded, the Clinton campaign was instead off to see the rurals, with Terry McAuliffe at the helm. Rural organizers for Hillary began their McAuliffe tour at Jerry’s restaurant in Fallon, where a group of about 25 undecided Dems and committed Hillary supporters received a pep talk with special emphasis on the importance of showing up on caucus day. (A developing theme in all the campaigns. Anxiety about whether and how well Nevada will perform its early caucus role.)
McAuliffe rejected the notion that when candidates talk up the importance of Nevada in this race — and they always do — they are talking about Las Vegas. He reiterated the Clinton campaign’s strong commitment to the rurals. The Reasonable Reporter respectfully pointed out that Reno is not part of rural Nevada, and then proceeded to explain the format of the UNR event Mrs. Clinton skipped, making reference, even, to Clinton’s own expressed desire for such an event.
McAuliffe pointed to Bill Clinton’s Reno appearance on Mrs. Clinton’s behalf the previous Friday, and to his own presence for the impending rural tour from Fallon to Elko. Nobody, said the Clinton campaign, can question Clinton’s commitment to Reno, although the Reasonable Reporter had, in fact, just done so.
And so it was that Bill Richardson and Joe Biden, who may in their own way bear some resemblance to Jan Brady, had the Democrats day of the Opportunity 08 Forum at UNR to themselves. And no Republicans showed up at all.