Republican leaders in Nevada say they are all in on re-electing President Donald Trump to a second term. Party officials threw their full support behind Trump during the annual Basque Fry Republican fundraiser in Gardnerville over the weekend. The conservatives argued that re-electing the president is the only way to divert the rise of socialism in the United States.
It was a veritable sea of Make America Great Again hats and shirts emblazoned with the Trump/Pence 2020 logo as hundreds of conservatives from across the state descended on Northern Nevada over the weekend.
The annual Basque Fry, which features speeches from national conservative leaders, has become a recent tradition in Republican state politics. While the event has, in the past, typically focused on drumming up support for local and state races, this year’s Basque Fry was more national in scope, focusing on the 2020 presidential election and the future of the nation.
“We face a true battle for the soul of our country,” said former Republican Attorney General and last year’s unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate, Adam Laxalt. His Morning in America Political Action Committee hosted the event.
“We have two diametrically opposed visions for the future of this great nation, and, unfortunately, there isn't much common ground--very different views of human nature, society and the role government should play in all this,” continued Laxalt.
By highlighting the differences between Trump and the Democratic field of presidential contenders, speakers painted a picture of the president as the bulwark stemming the rising tide of socialism in America.
Matt Schlapp is the head of the American Conservative Union, a national group that advocates for conservatives policies. He took particular issue with the more progressive Democrats on the ticket.
“We know that our backs are against the wall,” Shlapp said. “We cannot believe that we're talking about electing a socialist to the presidency. We cannot believe the fact that we've elected socialists to Congress, but [those are] the facts. Those are the cold, hard facts.”
To underline their support for the commander-in-chief last week, party leaders voted to cancel next year’s Republican Presidential Primary, guaranteeing Trump the support of the state’s GOP.
For Trump’s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, that’s good news. As perhaps the event’s most high-profile speaker, Mulvaney outlined a strategy that puts Nevada at the heart of the president’s path to victory.
“We lost the state by 28,000 votes,” Mulvaney mused. “70,000 people voted for somebody other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. There are enough voters in this state today for us to win this state in 2020, and that's why we are going to be here.”
That’s a message that resonated with Joe Ruisi of Gardnerville. He wants to see the president win a second term because he says Trump has been the greatest president in his lifetime.
“He’s brought back respect for this country,” Ruisi said. “He’s brought the economy back, and that's the best thing of all. We were in the dumps for eight years. The Democrats are ruining this country, and he’s trying to bring it back to make us the great country we are.”
Brigitte Stafford is with the Washoe County Republican Women. She says reelecting Trump is likely going to take a lot of work, but she says she’s committed.
"It's going to be very important that we go to our neighbors, our friends, our organizations, and let them know that the country is going in the wrong direction right now,” Stafford said. “We need to come together and vote together and bring out the vote and make sure that we get to keep the country that we want.”
Republicans in Nevada are likely going to face an uphill battle next year. Trump has not been successful in the Silver State. In 2016, he lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly two-and-a-half points, and in 2018, Republicans who allied themselves closely with the president lost every statewide race, save one.