Democratic candidates took part in an MSNBC town hall on Thursday evening (February 18), when each candidate had an hour separately, to receive questions from residents of the state of Nevada.
The state of Nevada has a large Latino population and some of the questions posed where asked in Spanish.
Both Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State hillary Clinton cozied up to U.S. president Barack Obama as they attempted to win democratic voters in Nevada who are due to caucus this upcoming Saturday (February 20).
"You know people can agree with Barack Obama, you can disagree with Barack Obama. But anybody who doesn't understand that the kind of obstructionism and hatred thrown at this man, the idea of making him a de-legitimate president by suggesting he was not born in America because his dad came from Kenya. No one asked me whether I'm a citizen or not. My father came from Poland, gee, what's the difference? Maybe the color of our skin," Sanders said when asked about what he would do to combat Islamophobia in the United States.
"All of us together have got to say no to xenophobia and to racism and to bigotry of all forms. And, by the way, thank you so much for being in our country, for practicing medicine and for helping your fellow human beings," Sanders told the American-Muslim physician who posed the question.
Clinton was asked at the top of her hour at the town hall about criticism of her husband's policies by Sanders. "I know that Senator Sanders has also attacked President Obama, he's called him weak, he's called him disappointing, he tried to get somebody to run against him in the 2012 election in the primary. And you know I just don't know where all this comes from because maybe it's that Senator Sanders wasn't really a Democrat until he decided to run for president," Clinton said and received a mix of applause and boos from the audience.
A former Clinton supporter who said he is now supporting Sanders asked Clinton why she is hesitant to release transcripts of speeches delivered to financial institutes. "I'm happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same, because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups, including Senator Sanders," Clinton said. Clintonwent on to say that she had the most comprehensive plan to deal with the threats of Wall Street. "I take a backseat to nobody in being very clear about what I will do to make sure Wall Street never crashes main street again. And, that you can count on," Clinton said after outlining different actions she took in that regard as a former Senator of New York.
Latinos make up about 27 percent of Nevada's population and they lean heavily Democrat, meaning they are a prize voter bloc for Clinton and Sanders.
There hasn't been enough polling in Nevada recently to show who is ahead among Latinos. But nationally Clinton has the advantage: Among Latinos who describe themselves as Democrats, 54 percent support Clinton and 37 percent back Sanders, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling from Oct. 1 to Feb. 12.