(18 February 2016)
I traveled to Las Vegas to cover the US presidential caucus for both the Democratic and Republican candidates. I arrived on Thursday, 18 February, to cover a Bernie Sanders rally, and former US President Bill Clinton made an unexpected appearance after Sanders left the stage. The event was called 1st in the West Kick-Off to Caucus dinner, so there were both Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters. It was a typical campaign event where he addressed supporters. Prior to his arrival, he spoke at a Town Hall meeting which was projected onto a huge screen as the supporters waited for him to appear. I like this photo and it was well published.
The next day, Friday, 19 February, I covered a campaign rally with Hillary Clinton. She was introduced by actress Eva Longoria and both her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea spoke before she made her campaign speech. There were a number of good photos, but I particularly liked the one of her looking admiringly at Bill Clinton as he spoke about how they met. I have also included pictures of her victory speech the next day at Caesar’s Palace Casino. She won a tight victory over Bernie Sanders and the picture of Bill Clinton looking admiringly at her was a nice contrast with the one from the day before.
I photographed the Caucus procedure which required a special pass from the Democratic Party of Nevada. All these events required special press access and on-line forms had to be filled out and submitted by a certain deadline. It is no longer possible for an accredited member of the press to just show up at these events and gain access as was the case in the past. With the proliferation of bloggers and internet journalists, space is restricted and access tightly controlled. The Democratic Caucus lasted only an hour but made for some nice pictures. The one of the Bernie supporters holding up the sign and shouting Bernie slogans was one of the more widely published pictures from that series.
Next up were the Republicans. (The process was essentially the same as the Democrats.) There were still five candidates in the race, but I could not do all of them, so on Sunday, 21 February, I travelled to Pahrump to photograph Ted Cruz giving a stump speech from the back of a pick-up truck outside the Draft Picks Sports Bar. Very American and made for some interesting pictures. I particularly like the one shot from above showing him among supporters signing posters.
From there, I headed off to a Marco Rubio rally in North Las Vegas at the Texas Station Gambling Hall. Nothing very special about this event, though I did like the supporters with their hands over their hearts as they sang the US national anthem.
The next day, Monday, 22 February, Donald Trump led a rally at the South Point Arena where rodeos and stock yard events are held. I’ve been to a couple of Trump rallies and they are interesting to say the least. This time, it was a carnival atmosphere with a Trump look-a-like, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra impersonators. A giant poster of Hillary Clinton as a joker card was among some of the more tasteless displays of animosity towards her. Trump arrived on a long elevated walkway and proceeded to attack everyone, including the media, which he routinely calls liars. The crowd loves it and turns towards us and ‘boos’ us. A few protestors make themselves known and are forcibly removed. On this occasion, Trump exclaimed, ‘I would like to punch him in the face’ as one protestor was led away. The crowd, of course, ate it up. The lead photo is of Trump gesturing. Nothing really special about it but with people talking about his small hands this picture shows their relative size.
Caucus Day for the Republicans. It was a busy day. Again, needed to pick-up a special pass and try and figure out where a good place to go would be. A colleague told me there would be a protest by Culinary Worker union members outside the Trump Hotel at 5 PM. The Caucus opened at 6 PM and traffic in Vegas at that time is gridlock. I felt it important to cover the workers’ demonstration as Trump has come under attack for hiring immigrants and having his products made in Mexico and China. There were a couple hundred demonstrators and it was worth covering.
Then I had to make it to the Caucus site I had decided to cover. There is a lot of enthusiasm for Trump, so lines outside the caucus site were long. I arrived after sunset and had to hustle to find parking and do some photos before it was too dark, then to photograph the caucus procedures and file some photos quickly. Not the greatest photos, but they told the story.
I was denied access to the Trump election watch party, so I decided to cover Ted Cruz. He eventually appeared. There were about as much media as supporters. Pretty sad, and pictures were pretty standard.
A long week of travel and coverage. Next up, Academy Awards….
To see photos that were filed with the EPA, visit the following links:
- Bernie Sanders campaign rally
- Hillary Clinton campaign rally
- Hillary Clinton victory speech
- Democratic Caucus
- Ted Cruz campaign rally in Pahrump
- Marco Rubio rally at Texas Station
- Donald Trump rally at South Point Arena
- Culinary Workers demonstration
- Nevada Republican Caucus
- Ted Cruz election watch party