“I don’t think it matters what happens in Iowa or New Hampshire because those states are not representative of the country anymore,” the longtime Nevada senator told reporters in Las Vegas.
Reid said his state of Nevada is the third to weigh in on the election but the first that looks like the rest of the country, with a sizeable Latino population and significant groups of Asian American and black voters.
While Nevada’s population is about 48 percent white, Iowa has a white population of about 85 percent and New Hampshire has a white population of about 90 percent, according to Census Bureau data.
Reid, 79, sitting in a wheelchair, also spoke at the Democratic “First in the West” forum.
“Nevada is a diverse state and we’re proud of it. We’re proud of Nevada. It’s a state where people can accomplish anything and that’s why someone like me has been able to do good things, because Nevada is that way,” he told the audience, which repeatedly broke into cheers as he spoke.
“There’s so much that needs to be done,” he added. “America needs to be represented in so many different ways. We need to change what’s going on with this administration in Washington and here tonight we have 14 Democratic candidates for the nomination. And one thing that we should clearly understand, when we get that nominee, we’re all going to join together and help them. Because that person, whoever’s the nominee, is going to be elected president of the United States.”
In the clearest demonstration of Reid’s influence, the candidates at one point joined him on stage and lined up to shake his hand one-by-one as he received a tribute from the party.
As the candidates took the stage at a glitzy Las Vegas Strip casino, they pitched their health care plans and pledged to beat President Donald Trump in 2020 as their supporters cheered and waved signs.
Former Obama administration cabinet secretary Julian Castro, who didn’t make the upcoming debate, also said early states aren’t “reflective” of the country.
“Demographically, it’s not reflective of the U.S. as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party, and I believe other states should have their chance,” Castro said last week.
Castro said he thinks Iowa and New Hampshire can still play an important role “but I also believe it’s time to give other states a chance to go first.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.