Democrats turn to Nevada, South Carolina after Sanders’ New Hampshire win

By John Whitesides and Amanda Becker

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democrats vying for the right to challenge U.S. President Donald Trump turned their focus to Nevada and South Carolina after Bernie Sanders solidified his front-runner status with a narrow victory in New Hampshire, with Pete Buttigieg close behind him.

While Sanders, a U.S. senator from neighboring Vermont, and Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, finished first and second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary respectively, the contest also showed the growing appeal of U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who placed third after surging over the past few days.

Two Democrats whose fortunes have been fading – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden – limped out of New Hampshire, finishing fourth and fifth respectively amid fresh questions about the viability of their candidacies.

New Hampshire was the second contest in the state-by-state battle to pick a Democratic nominee to face Trump, a Republican, in the Nov. 3 election. Sanders and Buttigieg finished in a virtual tie in the first contest last week in Iowa and won an equal number of delegates – who formally vote at the party’s convention in July to select a nominee – in New Hampshire, according to early projections.

The campaign’s focus now begins to shift to states more demographically diverse than the largely white and rural kickoff states of Iowa and New Hampshire. The next contest is on Feb. 22 in Nevada, where more than a quarter of the residents are Latino, followed a week later by South Carolina, where about a fourth are African-American.

After that, 14 states, including California and Texas, vote in the March 3 contests known as Super Tuesday, which will also be the first time voters see the name of billionaire former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on the Democratic presidential ballot.

Democrats must decide whether their best choice to challenge Trump would be a moderate like Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Biden or Bloomberg – or a candidate further to the left like Sanders or Warren.

Only one of the candidates has public events planned on Wednesday. Bloomberg, a billionaire media mogul, plans rallies in Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee.

With an eye toward a potential general election campaign against Trump, Bloomberg on Wednesday also announced the opening of a campaign office in New Hampshire headed by Democratic strategist Liz Purdy.

Bloomberg also picked up endorsements from three black members of the U.S. House of Representatives after he came under scrutiny over his past support for a policing tactic known as stop and frisk, which disproportionately affected racial minorities.

In New Hampshire, Sanders had 26% of the vote and Buttigieg had 24%. Klobuchar had 20%, Warren 9% and Biden 8%.

Buttigieg on Wednesday said his strong results in Iowa and New Hampshire showed he had momentum going forward, “settling the questions of whether we could build a campaign across age groups and different kinds of communities.”

Buttigieg, who would be the first openly gay U.S. president if elected, still faces questions about what opinion polls show is his weakness with black voters, one of the most loyal and vital Democratic voting blocs.


Asked about how he could gain the confidence of racial minority voters, Buttigieg told MSNBC he was focused on economic empowerment and suggested he had learned lessons, sometimes “the hard way,” as mayor of South Bend. He pointed to a plan he released last summer aimed at fighting racism.

“I think we’re getting a whole new look from black and Latino voters who have so much riding on making sure that we defeat Donald Trump, because they are among those with most to lose if they have to endure yet another term of this president,” he told MSNBC.

In a sign of the growing rivalry between Sanders, 78, and Buttigieg, 38, supporters for the senator booed and chanted “Wall Street Pete!” when Buttigieg’s post-primary speech was shown on screens.

“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” Sanders told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, late on Tuesday.

The Democratic field shrank to nine main candidates after businessman Andrew Yang and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, who had trailed in the polls and performed poorly on Tuesday, dropped out.

Biden, 77, who was once the front-runner in the Democratic race, stumbled to his second consecutive poor finish after placing fourth in Iowa. He is certain to face growing questions about his ability to consolidate moderate support against a surging Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

Klobuchar’s campaign said it was spending more than $1 million on ads in Nevada.

“We have beaten the odds every step of the way,” Klobuchar, 59, told supporters in Concord. “Because of you, we are taking this campaign to Nevada. We are going to South Carolina. And we are taking this message of unity to the country.”


(Reporting by John Whitesides, James Oliphant, Simon Lewis, Michael Martina and Amanda Becker in New Hampshire, additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Scott Malone, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)

New Hampshire votes as Democratic presidential hopefuls seek momentum

By Simon Lewis and Amanda Becker

SALEM/ROCHESTER, N.H. – New Hampshire voters were casting ballots on Tuesday in the second contest in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg jostling to remain atop a crowded field after strong performances last week in Iowa.

A parade of Democrats seeking the right to face President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election made final pitches to voters in the small New England state that often plays an outsized role is determining party presidential picks.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has jumped to third place in opinion polls in New Hampshire after a debate last Friday, is looking to gain momentum from the primary while former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to avoid another disappointment after a fourth-place showing in Iowa. Senator Elizabeth Warren, third in Iowa, rounds out the top of the slate.

New Hampshire Democrats were hoping for smoother sailing after embarrassing technical problems in the Iowa caucuses delayed the release of those results for days.

The New Hampshire ballot has a list of 33 names, including candidates who dropped out weeks ago, but will not include former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who entered the contest later and will face his first electoral test early next month.

Recent state polls showed Sanders leading the field, followed by Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

Supporters of Buttigieg, 38, greeted him at a Manchester polling place before dawn, waving blue and yellow “Pete 2020” campaign signs and chanting “President Pete.”

“It feels good out here,” Buttigieg said, smiling as reporters asked how he thought he would fare in the primary.

Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont in the Senate, won the New Hampshire primary handily over rival Hillary Clinton in his unsuccessful bid for the party’s nomination four years ago, securing 60% of the vote. In a crowded field this time, it is highly unlikely any of the candidates will draw that level of support by the voters.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, addressed a young crowd of more than 7,500 people on Monday night at the University of New Hampshire’s campus at Durham.

“This turnout tells me why we’re going to win here in New Hampshire, why we’re going to win the Democratic nomination and why we are going to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of America, Donald Trump,” Sanders, 78, said.

Voters in New Hampshire and the rest of the contests in the state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination will have to decide whether they want a moderate or a more left-leaning challenger to Trump. Sanders and Warren are the two progressive standard-bearers in the field, though Warren has been sliding in the polls. Like Sanders, New Hampshire voters are very familiar with Warren, who represents neighboring Massachusetts in the Senate. The moderates include Buttigieg, Klobuchar of Minnesota and Biden.

The prominent role of Iowa and New Hampshire, small and rural states with predominantly white populations, has come under increased criticism this year by Democrats for poorly representing the diversity of the party and the country.


The Feb. 22 caucuses in Nevada, which has a large Latino population, and the Feb. 29 primary in South Carolina, which has a large African-American population, will pose a new test for the 11 remaining Democratic candidates.

Biden in particular is banking on South Carolina, where he has enjoyed strong support among African-American voters. He served as vice president for eight years under Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president.

Support for Biden, the former front-runner in the race, has tumbled nationally since his poor performance in Iowa and he has said he might suffer another weak finish in New Hampshire.

Klobuchar, who arrived at a polling location in Manchester on Tuesday morning, noted her gradual rise in the polls and said she was prepared to keep fighting.

“I’m a different kind of candidate,” Klobuchar told CNN. “… I have also been able to bring people with me.”

Biden, also appearing on CNN, pressed the point that he can win over black and working-class voters and that no one in the South will vote for a democratic socialist.

Warren started her day by visiting a polling location in Portsmouth. She handed out donuts to volunteers and took photos with voters, along with her husband Bruce Mann and dog Bailey.

In Manchester, voter Sara Lutat said she cast her ballot for Buttigieg.

“I think he’s the one who can beat Trump,” she said.

Fellow Manchester voter Rebecca Balzano called Buttigieg “too new, too young” and said she voted for Sanders.

(Reporting by John Whitesides, James Oliphant, Simon Lewis and Amanda Becker in New Hampshire; Writing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao)

U.S. cities move to curb lead poisoning following Reuters report

Environmental Protection Agency signs that read "DO NOT play in the dirt or around the mulch" are seen at the West Calumet Complex in East Chicago, Indiana, U.S.

By Joshua Schneyer and M.B. Pell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cities and towns across the United States are taking action after a Reuters report identified thousands of communities where children tested with lead poisoning at higher rates than in Flint, Michigan.

From California to Pennsylvania, local leaders, health officials and researchers are advancing measures to protect children from the toxic threat. They include more blood-lead screening, property inspections, hazard abatement and community outreach programs.

The University of Notre Dame is offering a graduate course to study and combat local poisoning problems the report helped bring to light.

“This has just laid out that it’s not just a Detroit issue, it’s not just a Baltimore issue,” said Ruth Ann Norton, president of Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, a Baltimore-based nonprofit. “This started conversations with mayors and governors.”

In an investigation last month, the news agency used census tract and zip code-level data from millions of childhood blood tests to identify nearly 3,000 U.S. communities with recently recorded lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint. More than 1,100 of these neighborhoods had a rate of elevated blood tests at least four times higher than in Flint.

A Reuters interactive map, built with previously unpublished data, allowed users to track local poisoning rates across much of the country for the first time. In many areas, residents and officials weren’t previously aware of the scope of local children’s exposure. The poisoning hazards include deteriorating lead paint, tainted soil and contaminated water.

To read the December investigation and use the map, click here:

Flint’s lead poisoning is no aberration, Reuters found, but one example of a preventable health crisis that continues in hazardous spots in much of the country.

Lead poisoning stunts children’s cognitive development, and no level of exposure is considered safe. Though abatement efforts have made remarkable progress in curbing exposure since the 1970s, children remain at risk in thousands of neighborhoods.

In South Bend, Indiana, for instance, the data showed several hotspots. In one tract, 31.3 percent of small children tested since 2005 had blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s current threshold for elevated levels in children under age 6. Children at or above this threshold warrant a public health response, the CDC says.

Across Flint, 5 percent of children tested had high levels during the peak of the city’s water contamination crisis.

After Reuters published its findings, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg held a press conference with county health officials to address local poisoning. Several actions followed:

– County health officials have begun a surveillance effort to track childhood blood-lead testing, encouraging more screening.

– Officials plan to press for an Environmental Protection Agency grant to boost environmental testing and lead abatement.

– Notre Dame is offering a semester-long graduate level class for students to research the local poisoning problem and assist health officials. A summer research program, “Get the Lead Out,” will send students into homes to measure lead in paint, dust, soil and water and inform families about risks. These programs will help pay for hundreds more childhood blood lead tests, after testing stalled due to funding shortfalls.

“Everything has moved into fast-forward pace here since your story,” said Heidi Beidinger-Burnett, a county health board member and professor at Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health. “We are acting with a sense of urgency because kids here depend on it.”

Other officials in Indiana are exploring additional measures to protect children. State Senator Jean Breaux introduced a bill this week to compel the state health department to double blood lead screening rates among Indiana children enrolled in Medicaid. The screenings are required for Medicaid-enrolled children, but major testing gaps remain.


In Oakland, California, 7.57 percent of children tested in the Fruitvale neighborhood had high lead levels, a result largely of old lead paint or tainted soil.

Two Oakland council members introduced a city resolution Jan. 12 that, if approved, will require property owners to obtain lead inspections and safety certifications before renting or selling housing built before 1978, when lead paint was banned. Oakland would also provide families in older homes with lead safety materials, and urge more blood screening.

“We need to address that issue, that’s the bottom line,” said councilman Noel Gallo, who grew up in Fruitvale.

Larry Brooks, director of Alameda County’s Healthy Homes Department, wrote in a San Francisco Chronicle editorial that “Oakland has thousands of lead-poisoned children.” Before the Reuters report, he added, “whispers about potential lead poisoning in Oakland were dismissed as an ‘East Coast phenomenon’ or a crisis contained to Flint.”

The Reuters analysis found high poisoning rates in spots across Texas, where the office of Austin City Council member Delia Garza said she may use the information to press for more aggressive lead abatement measures. City officials are urging the state health department to release more blood testing data.

Local data can detect clusters of poisoned children who remain hidden in the broader surveys states usually publish. The news agency obtained local data covering 21 states, and about 61 percent of the U.S. population, through public records requests.

In the Dallas area, clean air advocacy group Downwinders at Risk is holding an event to address lingering hazards, including shuttered lead smelters. The group cited Reuters’ work, which helped to identify Dallas areas with high poisoning rates.”Having five to six times the national average of high blood lead readings in a zip (code) just south of downtown certainly has been getting people’s attention,” said group director Jim Schermbeck.

In St. Joseph, Missouri, where testing data showed at least 120 small children have been poisoned within a 15-block radius since 2010, the city manager convened department heads to address the problem.

Pennsylvania had the most census tracts where at least 10 percent of children tested high for lead. In Warren, where the rate was as high as 36 percent, the city manager said she’s considering distributing home-testing kits to families. County officials will meet to consider several additional measures, including boosting blood screening and increasing funding for prevention. County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said he wasn’t aware of the full scope of poisoning in Warren until the Reuters report. It hit close to home. A few years ago, Eggleston said, his infant son was poisoned by lead.

(Reporting by Joshua Schneyer and M.B. Pell. Editing by Ronnie Greene)