On Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to speak with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his office in the Capitol. This is the second in a series of conversations I had with Democratic presidential candidates and party leaders for publication here on MyDD. Yesterday, I posted the audio and transcript of my talk with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer and tomorrow morning I will continue with the audio and transcript of my meeting with former Sen. John Edwards.
During the interview with Sen. Reid, which you can listen to in full through a stream or download as an .mp3 for use later at Odeo (some day I will figure out how to embed the audio a la YouTube), I was able to bring up a number of the questions that you suggested here in the comments of MyDD, as well as some submitted to me through email. Now, the transcript:
Jonathan Singer: Thanks for taking the time. Can you tell us a little bit about what it's going to take for someone to win the Nevada caucuses? It's kind of a new thing for us political watchers.
Harry Reid: Well it's a new thing for we Nevadans. It's a real challenge to make sure we organize well. I think it's so important to our country that we change the system. Iowa, a state with a nice population, but very little diversity. Wonderful people. They've done a good job with their caucuses. New Hampshire has no diversity and a very small population. It really seems unfair to me and most people, and that's why the DNC changed it - [that] those two states should determine who's President.
Why did they choose Nevada and South Carolina? They chose Nevada because of its diversity - 20 percent Hispanic, large African-American population, Asian-American population is 6-7 percent. That's big. We have 22 different tribal organizations. The state of Nevada has large union representation, 14 percent and going up rather than down, like a lot of other places in the country.
We have population centers. We have Las Vegas and Reno, two large centers, Las Vegas really big. We have all of the problems of any major metropolitan area. We have rural Nevada, which is representative certainly of rural America. Nevada is representative of the rest of the country.
And people who come there are going to have to be able to respond to Western questions. Water. In the East, we used to have too much. In the West, it's always not enough. We have problems in the West that are unique to the West. The military is different in the West than the East because it's spread out. For example, Las Vegas has the largest Air Force fighter training school in the world. Great ranges. Before you came here we had a map of all that. I wish I could have shown it to you. It's just huge.
Forty percent of the state of Nevada is restricted airspace, military. Eighty-seven percent of the state of Nevada is owned by the federal government. Only 13 percent is privately owned. So we have a lot of federal land issues in Nevada that you don't have in any other place, except you got some in Utah, Montana. But ours is exaggerated compared to them.
People are going to have to be aware of all of these Nevada issues, not the least of which is Yucca Mountain, storage of nuclear waste.
Singer: Do you have any recommendations for a candidate?
Reid: Come to Nevada. That's my first recommendation. You're not going to win running 30-second TV spots somewhere else.