Caucuses boost Clinton, Romney

The Nevada caucuses gave a boost to Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and GOP candidate Mitt Romney, both of whom hope to use the win to break away from rivals for the nomination in their parties.

The former Massachusetts governor now has more state wins than candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, while Clinton has two wins to the one for Barack Obama, who won Iowa's caucus.

Voters responded to the Sen. Clinton's economic record of helping the middle class and the "invisibles" overlooked by the current administration, said former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

"A lot of people can hope for change, some demand change, but all of her life she's worked for change," he said.

Clinton has criticized Obama's message of change, saying she's done it while he's only talked about it.

Hispanics, who made up about 15 percent of caucus voters, helped Clinton win Clark County, Vilsack said, because she understands how some of them struggle with money.

Obama did win Northern Nevada including Carson City and Storey, Douglas and Washoe counties. His win allowed him to earn more delegates (13) than Clinton (12) who won the popular vote.

Steve Platt, chairman of the Carson City Democrats and an Obama supporter, said he was disappointed Obama didn't win but was happy the candidate did get about 45 percent compared to Clinton's 50 percent.

Rural counties picked Obama because they knew he understands how politics work, Platt said.

"We, in Northern Nevada, know that to get anything done you have to work with independents and Republicans," he said.

Romney, however, won every county in the state.

Romney "holds the beliefs that are essentially (the same as) a fiscal conservative, a social conservative and a foreign policy conservative. All three," said Josh Romney, the candidate's 32-year-old son. "To a lot of voters here, they see a line up with my dad on those issues and that's what got him a lot of support here."

Josh Romney said his father is campaigning hard in every state but that Nevada is especially important because it's a "battleground state" that shows he can win in close state races in the general election.

But the real reason Romney won half the state was his organization, said Steve Wark, a representative for the Nevada GOP caucus.

Generally candidates who can organize a smart, strong campaign win, he said, "and conventional wisdom won out."

The calls his campaign made, the cards it sent out and the hard work it did were more important for Romney's win than his message, said Howard Hirsch, chairman of the Lyon County Republican Party.

Several candidates besides Duncan Hunter, who withdrew following the Nevada results, also got less than 5 percent of the state including GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson as well as Democratic candidates John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel.

Kucinich will continue despite being kept out of national debates, said campaign representative Tom Staudter.

"Damned if big media will silence him," he said.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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