Las Vegas, NV - With thousands of Californians pouring over the border to assist in a last-minute door-to-door ground blitz, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama revved up a crowd of 15,000 local supporters Saturday morning saying that "there's only 3 days left before we change America."
Long lines of rally goers formed before 7:00 a.m. at a high school football field in the blue-collar suburb of Henderson and then patiently waited more than two hours for Obama to arrive.
"Don't think for one moment that this election is already over," Obama warned the cheering crowd, saying that they should take nothing for granted. A spate of polls show Obama leading McCain by 5-7 points in the Silver State. Nevada has not recently voted for a Democratic president but has consistently been trending blue.
With only 5 electoral votes, Nevada might not be decisive in the final electoral count but could be a reliable regional bellwether.
Much of Obama's address this morning reflected what has become his standard stump speech of the past few weeks -- a blistering attack on McCain's economic policies. But he got his biggest outburst of applause when, speaking of Iraq, he said "it's time to end this war now."
The overflow crowd was peppered not only with the multi-color display of union t-shirts but also with large numbers of Californians and other out-of-staters who have been streaming into Nevada as last-moment Obama campaign volunteers. "I got up at 3:30 morning to drive from Los Angeles because I wanted to see how excited people were three days before a major shift in American history," said one Los Angeles based union activist who attended the rally.
On Friday night, the I-15 highway into Las Vegas was clogged with caravans of cars and vans with California license plates and Obama '08 bumper stickers. Volunteer groups formed by Southern California Democratic clubs, pro-choice groups and teams built around staff from pro-Obama elected officials in Los Angeles have been propelling squads of volunteers and canvassers into Las Vegas and Reno.Hope for an Obama victory in Nevada were buoyed by reports of an overwhelming Democratic turnout in early voting which closed out yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reports that
"as of late Thursday night, registered Democrats had cast 225,670 of the 438,129 ballots (51.5%) in the two most populous counties, Las Vegas's Clark County and Reno's Washoe. Republicans cast 31.3% with the remainder cast by Independents.
Those two counties account for about 90% of the state's turnout. Early voting is expected to make up 60% of the Silver State's 2008 ballots, and with a 20-point margin already banked, assuming most of the registered Democrats voted for Obama, the party goes into Election Day with a big cushion.."
As Obama wrapped up this morning's rally and headed for similar 11th hour pushes in swing states Colorado and Missouri, local organizers methodically funneled hundreds of attendees onto an adjoining field where they were immediately enlisted as canvassers. Quickly prepped, handed packets and talking points, they were out knocking on doors just minutes after Obama finished speaking.