Reid said…he’s impressed with the packed field…
(Associated Press) Iowa and New Hampshire get to weigh in first on the Democratic presidential contest next year, but the states are not ethnically diverse enough to offer any insight into how a candidate will fare across the country, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday.
“I don’t think it matters what happens in Iowa or New Hampshire because those states are not representative of the country anymore,” Reid said.
Nevada is the third state to weigh in but the first that looks like the rest of the country, with a sizeable Latino population and significant groups of Asian American and black voters, Reid said.
Reid, a longtime Nevada Democrat who helped the state land its influential role in the presidential nominating process, spoke to reporters in Las Vegas on Sunday before 14 White House hopefuls were set to speak at a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic party.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who jumped into the race on Thursday, was added as a last-minute speaker at the event at the Bellagio casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
Reid said Patrick is “a very fine man who had a great record in Massachusetts” and someone who “has a lot to sell.”
Patrick, who was scheduled to speak last to the Democratic officials and activists, told reporters that despite his late entry to the race, his late entry isn’t a “fool’s errand.”
“I looked hard at whether there was a path. I’m confident there is a path. Every place I’ve been so far, I’ve been assured by others on the ground that there is a path.”
Patrick said he’s going to try to qualify for the debates but isn’t sure it’s the best format to get his message out. One of the most interesting factors in Patrick’s candidacy is his close friendship with Barack Obama, described by Patrick as “a terrific president.” Obama has not endorsed a candidate in the crowded Democratic primary.
Patrick said he thinks “the moment demands something different from whomever our next president is and will get from me.”
Reid, who says he won’t endorse until after Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucuses, said it’s too early to start counting candidates out of the race and he’s impressed with the packed field.
Reid said he thinks that former Vice President Joe Biden has appeared strong in Nevada because he “is one that appeals to diversity,” but he added that most of the other Democrats running can also appeal to diverse groups.
Rebecca Lambe, a longtime Reid aide and Democratic strategist, said Nevada also offers a good test for the rest of the country because with its population centered in Las Vegas, it’s largely urban. Lambe said the state also has many voters who tend to be less reliable at turning out to vote, testing a candidate’s appeal and ability to organize.