By Chris Kudialis
President Donald Trump today made the first of what is expected to be several campaign stops in Las Vegas this election season in support of Nevada's leading Republican candidates.
Trump wasted no time taking shots at the opponents of U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, who is up for re-election, and GOP candidate for governor Adam Laxalt, predicting they would easily win their races.
Speaking at the Suncoast during the Nevada Republican Convention, Trump introduced nicknames for U.S. Sen. challenger Jacky Rosen and Democratic governor candidate Steve Sisolak.
"Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas," Trump said, referring to Rosen and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as the capacity crowd of nearly 600 jeered. He later called Sisolak "Shady Steve."
During a 45-minute speech, Trump also touted recent policy changes on international trade, border security and U.S. relations with North Korea. He did not directly address the recent controversy on the Department of Homeland Security separating immigrant families at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump called Heller a "tough cookie," saying the Nevada senator should be credited for helping lead passage of tax cuts last year.
He said a vote for Rosen would be a vote for Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, whom he claims are in favor of raising taxes and are soft on immigration.
Trump also brought Danny Tarkanian to the stage to thank the Republican nominee for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District for backing out of the Senate race to challenge Heller. Trump called Tarkanian a "team player," but did not talk about his race against Democrat Susie Lee.
Speaking on health care, Trump said the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration was "on its last legs," despite the failure of multiple reform bills last year. He touted the removal of the individual mandate as an example of how his administration has "essentially gutted" Obamacare.
Trump spoke briefly about his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying the two have "great chemistry" and that North Korea has "tremendous potential" after a June 12 summit in Singapore to set the stage for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Trump said ongoing trade negotiations and tariffs involving the U.S. and China, as well as the European Union, will help make international commerce more favorable for the United States.
"We're the piggy bank that everybody likes to rob from, to steal from," he said. "Not anymore."
Trump said he'd be back a lot this election season to campaign for Republicans in Nevada. He was also scheduled to speak at a fundraiser for Heller at the South Point this afternoon.
Angela Swaggerty, a Las Vegas resident who lives less than a mile from the Suncoast, waited outside the Suncoast ballroom where Trump spoke after deciding a $250 ticket to see the president was too expensive. She held a sign reading, "Trump, draining the swamp" alongside the lyrics to "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Swaggerty, 65, praised Trump for improving the economy, saying while his foreign policy was "not phenomenal," the economic growth was making Americans across the board wealthier.
Joe Hooven, a Douglas County GOP delegate, watched the president speak from inside the ballroom. The two-year Nevada resident said tax cuts, low unemployment and tough border security make Trump "an ideal president."
"He has done so much in such a short period of time," Hooven said.
Speaking before Trump, Heller said nobody worked harder than the president to reverse the "Obama nightmare."
Laxalt, the state attorney general, spent four minutes at the podium taking shots at Sisolak. "He will take our unique state the way of California," Laxalt said, as the crowd booed.
(c)2018 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)