Reid, who had lobbied behind the scenes to get Barack Obama into the 2008 primaries, had remained circumspect about 2016. At his own Saturday caucus in Henderson, a Las Vegas suburb, Reid showed up with his wife, Landra Gould, and — in full view of reporters — remained uncommitted. (In Nevada, as in most Democratic caucus states, voters must declare their intentions by raising their hands and moving to separate sides of a room.)
"I didn't endorse, on purpose, because I wanted to make sure that no one could complain about my trying to take advantage of anything," said Reid. "So I stayed out."
That was a contrast with the situation that would greet Clinton next week in South Carolina, where Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of the Democrats' congressional leadership, had made a splashy endorsement. But South Carolina's status as an early state is safer than Nevada's. Most of Reid's evening news conference was a pitch for Nevada to keep its caucuses, bringing candidates to a diverse state that had been brutalized by the 2008 recession.
Reid also took a swing at Republicans for a rumor that the gap between the Democrats' Saturday event and the GOP's Tuesday event would allow mischief-minded conservatives to cross over — then vote again.
"We're glad that the Republicans didn't try to sabotage the caucuses," Reid said. "I think had we not yelled and screamed the last couple of days, they would have done that. And I think that tells a lot about Republicans, who do everything they can to suppress the vote."
The Senate minority leader had less to say about the Republican contest — lightly polled, but expected to deliver a third consecutive victory for Donald Trump.
"Jeb Bush not being in the race changes Nevada," Reid said. "He had a big following in Nevada. But we'll see what happens. I'm really, to be candid with you, am the wrong person to ask about the Republican race."