This is a Very Big Gaffe™ for Trump. Let me explain.
First, here's what he said at a rally in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday night:
"Heroin overdoses are surging and meth overdoses in Nuh-VAH-da," Trump said, unequivocally, irrefutably pronouncing the state wrong. Trump -- and nearly every other East Coaster who doesn't understand the West -- is pronouncing the state with an uppity East Coast accent, making the vowel in "VAH" sound like "odd." (We'll get to the correct pronunciation in a minute. For now, more on how Trump is wrong.)
"Nuh-VAH-da," Trump repeated, going slower to emphasize his mispronunciation of the name of this swing state in front of voters in one of the swingiest regions of this swing state -- again, for reasons I don't understand.
Then he did it again: "You know what I said? I said, when I came out here, I said: 'Nobody says it the other way. It has to be Nuh-VAH-da, right?' And if you don't say it correctly — it didn't happen to me, but it happened to a friend of mine — he was killed."
No word on Trump's friend. But as this very definitive Vine that I made earlier this year tells us, the correct way to pronounce the state is "Nuh-VAA-da," almost as if if you were to overlay a southern drawl when saying the state's name. (Also, sounds like the "a" in "dad.")
Why am I the ultimate decider on this Very Important Issue? Because I am.
Also, I've covered politics in the state, and I can tell you there's no debate among locals that "Nuh-VAA-da" is the only way to say the state's name. It's became a litmus test of sorts when, every four years, politicians from the other side of the country come to the state to ask Nevadans for their vote. Can they at least say the state's name right?
In 2010, a state lawmaker proposed legislation that would allow people to pronounce the state's name Trump's way — although the bill would have made clear the correct pronunciation is "preferable." He argued Trump's way is the Spanish way to pronounce the state's name, which isn't incorrect.
But the bill didn't go anywhere. And the right way to pronounce Nevada remains "Nuh-VAA-da."
Also, Twitter agrees with me, so end of discussion:
Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), a Nuh-VAA-da native and most definitely not a Trump fan, took the opportunity to whack Trump for the mispronunciation. In a statement, he said:"If Donald Trump wants to come down from the penthouse his daddy bought him to lecture us on how to say Nevada, he could at least pronounce it correctly."
Getting the state's name wrong isn't the only tricky question Trump fudged in his visit to this swing state. In an interview with KSN-TV in Las Vegas, Trump punted on one of the thorniest national issues facing the state: Whether to store the nation's nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain.
"I'm going to take a look at it, because so many people are talking about it," Trump told KSNV's Jim Snyder. "I came into town, and everyone's talking about it. So I will take a very strong look at it, and the next time you interview me, we'll talk about it for five minutes."
For decades now, Reid has blocked the storage of nuclear waste in the mountain, which sits roughly 90 miles outside Las Vegas, some of it hollowed out and ready to go since Congress and President Ronald Reagan approved the site in 1987.
Nuclear waste might seem like a relatively arcane thing for presidential candidates to have to know about, but it's actually pretty important: Without a place to store it, energy experts say we can't expand our nuclear power program. Both sides have dug in on whether to store it in Yucca Mountain, and, depending who you talk to, the project is either stalled or dead.
As my colleague Sean Sullivan points out, Hillary Clinton told the Las Vegas Sun in January that Yucca would be "off the table" as a storage site if she were president: "I think there are enough questions about its suitability as a site, and there is also such organized opposition to its use that it doesn't really make sense."
To sum up this important, quadrennial lesson on Nevada politics: Whether to store nuclear waste in Nevada is a pretty nuanced debate. But how to pronounce the state isn't. Trump got it wrong, Reid got it right. Say it with me, newly minted Nevada-savvy readers: "It's pronounced Nuh-VAA-da."