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Nevada Caucus Update


We have some news from the presidential race. Hillary Clinton has won the Nevada Democratic caucuses, the Associated Press projects. We wanted to go to Las Vegas now where NPR's Tamara Keith is standing by at a Clinton rally at Caesar's Palace. Welcome back, Tamara. Have we heard yet from Hillary Clinton?

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi there. No, Hillary Clinton has not spoken yet, but she should be coming pretty soon. And obviously, folks here are pretty thrilled with the outcome. This is the first time that Hillary Clinton can walk out and actually declare victory. In Iowa, she said she had breathed a breath of relief, but the results were way too close to call when she came out. And obviously in New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders won by more than 20 points. So this is the first time Hillary Clinton will come on stage and say thanks, I won.

MARTIN: Is that the main significance of this victory, that this is the first kind of clear-cut victory for her?

KEITH: I think the other major significance is the diversity of the electorate here in Nevada. In 2008, it was 65 percent white and 35 percent nonwhite. It's expected that that number will shift, that the population has gotten even more diverse here in Nevada in those intervening years. And her ability to connect with African-American voters and Latino voters is significant because they are the future of the Democratic Party. And those voters are going to be important in winning in the general election. Also, this is significant because Bernie Sanders had so much momentum coming into this. And it's still a close race in Nevada. She didn't win in a landslide. But it does give her the ability to say that she's, you know, stopping some of that Sanders' momentum - Bernmentum (ph) if you will.

MARTIN: I wanted to ask you about that because the reporting in the last couple of days leading up to today was that the race was tougher than expected, that the race was narrower than expected. Could you just talk a little bit about that? Like, what was the feel from each side in the days before, you know, running up to this moment?

KEITH: Absolutely. I mean, and it was tougher than expected and closer than expected. A couple of months ago, her staff was expecting her to win by double digits. And that's not what the result was here tonight. It was closer than that. And so I think that for her staff, you know, Bernie Sanders was there in the rearview mirror and getting closer. And so her staff was sort of downplaying expectations. I think that they had gotten expectations very high ahead of Iowa, and then it was extremely close and it wasn't the kind of win they were hoping for. So this time they were downplaying yesterday. I ran into her campaign manager on the Las Vegas Strip this morning while I was literally out on a run and talked to him. And he said he thought it was going be close, but he said I'd rather be us than them right now, which now we know why he said that.

MARTIN: You think they had a sense that the momentum had shifted, you know, for whatever reason? Tam, before we let you go, former Secretary of State Clinton is not sticking around in Nevada. She's about to fly to Texas. Why there?

KEITH: Well, Texas is a Super Tuesday state. There are just a ton of states that are going to be voting on March 1. And that's another state with a significant minority population on the Democratic side - a lot of African-American voters and Latino voters - and a lot of delegates. And Hillary Clinton wants to try to do well there. Bernie Sanders actually had staff on the ground in Texas earlier than she did. And so that's, you know, an area she hopes to win and so she's going to work for it.

MARTIN: All right, that's NPR's Tamara Keith, covering the campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who just won the Nevada Democratic caucuses as projected by the Associated Press. Tamara, thanks so much for joining us.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.