Biden starts Nevada 2-day trip at blue-collar Sparks school

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SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden kicks off a two-day campaign swing through Nevada Friday night in a blue-collar neighborhood in Sparks where another ex-vice president helped rally GOP troops to their last presidential victory in Nevada on election eve in 2004.

Biden, who was President Barrack Obama's vice president, historically has enjoyed strong support from labor unions and working-class voters in northern Nevada's Washoe County, especially Reno and neighboring Sparks.

He plans a speech at 6 p.m. Friday in Sparks High School, where then-Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on the November night before George W. Bush's re-election victory over Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

It was the last time Republicans carried the state or Washoe County, which had been staunchly GOP for four decades.

Four years later, Obama became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to win in Washoe County, part of the state's most rural congressional district where no Democrat has ever been elected to the U.S. House in its history dating to 1982.

Nevada was one of the only swing states President Donald Trump failed to win in 2016, and Democrats are increasingly confident the Silver State is turning blue. They now hold both U.S. Senate seats and three of four House seats.

Bill Clinton won Nevada in 1992 and 1996, as did the Obama-Biden ticket in 2008 and 2012 after Bush's victories in 2000 and 2004.

Nevada's Feb. 22 caucuses follow only the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucuses in the presidential pecking order.

Biden, 77, has made six visits to the Las Vegas area — a longtime Democratic stronghold — since the campaign began. He has been less visible in the north than two of his key rivals, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Friday's appearance is his third in northern Nevada and first in Sparks after stops in Reno in October and rural Elko in November.

As Biden is scheduled to take the stage in Sparks at the school built in 1951, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is expected to make a virtual appearance before rural Nevada Democrats. Yang, following in the steps of other White House contenders, will hold an online videoconference at 5 p.m.

On Saturday morning in Las Vegas, candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are scheduled to hold town halls with the powerful casino workers’ Culinary Union. Buttigieg plans to hold a rally later, and Biden will hold a community event in north Las Vegas with Latino and immigrant advocacy group Mi Familia Vota.

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