Sanders wins Nevada caucuses, takes national Democratic lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bernie Sanders has scored a resounding victory in Nevada’s presidential caucuses.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. speaks at a campaign event in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Sanders urged his supporters to vote in the primary, which is already underway. Democratic primary voting in Texas ends March 3, along with other states who, all together, will decide one third of the delegates in the contest. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

His win on Saturday cements his status as the Democrats’ national front-runner, though it’s also escalating tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump.

The 78-year-old Vermont senator successfully rallied his loyal base and tapped into support from Nevada’s large Latino community as the Democratic contest moved for the first time into a state with a significant minority population.

The party’s more-establishment-minded members have been unable so far to unite behind Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden or Amy Klobuchar, helping Sanders pull away.

Sanders is celebrating his Nevada caucus victory hundreds of miles away in Texas.

The Vermont senator took the stage before thousands of cheering supporters inside the Cowboys Dance Hall in San Antonio on Saturday night and declared, “We’re going to win this election.”

The country’s second largest state votes on “Super Tuesday” on March 3, after next week’s South Carolina primary, but Sanders wasted little time declaring, “We are going to win here in Texas.”

He added: “We are going to win across the country because the American people are sick and tired of a president who lies all of the time.”

Sanders then modified the standard campaign speech he gives multiple times a day to touch more heavily on immigration for an audience about 150 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. He noted that his father immigrated to the U.S. from Poland “without a nickel in his pocket” and added, "I know something about the immigrant experience. Together we are going to end the demonization” of immigrants.

Buttigieg’s campaign has questioned his third-place finish in Nevada’s caucuses and called for the state’s Democratic party to release a more detailed breakdown of votes and address reports of more than 200 problems allocating votes in Saturday’s caucuses.

In a letter sent to the Nevada State Democratic Party late Saturday night and provided to The Associated Press on Sunday, the Buttigieg campaign said the process of integrating four days of early voting into in-person caucuses held Saturday was “plagued with errors and inconsistencies.”

The Nevada Democratic Party says it is not going to release a more detailed breakdown than originally planned and appeared to invite Buttigieg’s campaign to seek a recount if it wants to challenge results.

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