US President Joe Biden set his sights Sunday on the Nevada primary, a day after his overwhelming victory in South Carolina brought a tense rematch with Donald Trump another step closer.
The 81-year-old Democrat will speak at two campaign events in the gambling city of Las Vegas, where he is odds-on favorite in Tuesday’s vote to continue his march towards the party’s nomination.
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Nevada is a battleground state which has largely voted for the White House winner in recent decades and which backed Biden in 2020 by a narrow margin — less than 35,000 votes separated him from then-president Trump.
In South Carolina, Biden scored 96.2 percent in his expected win in the country’s first official primary, where Democrats were watching whether he could woo Black voters who helped propel him to the White House in 2020.
His campaign said that in Las Vegas Biden would “speak directly to voters about the stakes of this election”, which he has framed as a battle for US democracy against twice-impeached Republican frontrunner Trump.
Biden returned to the theme in his victory statement after South Carolina, where his rivals, self-help author Marianne Williamson and congressman Dean Phillips, scored two percent or less.
Addressing the southern US state’s voters, he said: “I have no doubt that you have set us on the path to winning the Presidency again — and making Donald Trump a loser — again.
“The stakes in this election could not be higher. There are extreme and dangerous voices at work in the country — led by Donald Trump — who are determined to divide our nation and take us backward.
“We cannot let that happen.”
– Tight election –
The US presidential election in November promises to be tight, with polls showing Biden largely even or slightly trailing Trump, and suffering from the lowest approval ratings of any president for decades.
A poll by US broadcaster NBC published Sunday showed Trump leading Biden by 47 percent to 42 percent, within the poll’s margin of error but a shift from a Biden lead in mid-2023.
Trump held a 30-point lead on immigration, as Republicans and Democrats battle over a bill tying aid for Ukraine with measures to curb the crisis at the Mexican border, and a 20-point lead on the economy.
Fewer than three in 10 people approved of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, which has spiralled into a regional crisis with the United States launching air strikes on Iranian proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Trump, 77, meanwhile has a lock on the Republican nomination in Nevada, despite not being on the ballot for the Republican state-mandated primary ballot this week.
The right-wing populist, currently battling a string of criminal and civil legal cases, will pick up the state’s delegates because Nevada’s Republican Party has decided to ignore the primary and focus on its own caucus, in which he is the sole candidate.
The political drama is more focused on the Republican primary in South Carolina on February 24 where Trump’s last challenger, the state’s former governor Nikki Haley, will fight to keep her campaign alive.