Leaders of northern Nevada's black, Hispanic and American Indian communities rallied with Democratic Sen. John Edwards Monday as the vice presidential candidate of the "party of inclusion."
"We are standing with you today, with the Democratic Party
because we are the party of inclusiveness," said Arlen Melendez, a
Vietnam veteran and chairman of the Reno Sparks Indian Colony.
"We are the party that represents people of all walks of
life," he said before Edwards addressed a diverse crowd of more
than 4,000 on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
"This country needs new leadership that will meet with groups
that represent Native Americans, blacks, Latinos and Asians," he
Emma Supevelda, a UNR literature professor and president of
Latinos for Political Education, led the crowd in a chant of "No
mas Bush," "No more Bush."
"The message from the Latino community is that we don't want a
president who speaks Spanish to us, but turns around and supports
English-only legislation," she said.
Melendez said the Bush-Cheney campaign's criticism of Democratic
presidential candidate John Kerry's war record has divided the
country and caused divisions "even among our Vietnam veterans."
"That should never happen. We should never question the honor
or the medals of our veterans," he said.
Edwards continued the theme of inclusiveness versus divisions in
a 25-minute speech that criticized the Bush administration's
economic and foreign policies and repeated a pledge Nevada
Democrats believe will help the Kerry-Bush ticket carry the state
that Bush won in 2000 after Bill Clinton claimed it twice before:
"When John Kerry is president, there will be no nuclear waste
dump at Yucca Mountain," he said to loud applause.
Edwards said President Bush should apologize for Vice President
Dick Cheney's comments suggesting a Kerry-Edwards administration
would leave the country vulnerable to new terrorist attacks.
"The vice president actually said if you don't vote for Dick
Cheney and George Bush, if there's another terrorist attack,
basically it is your fault," Edwards said from the outdoor stage
in front of Morrill Hall draped with American flags and
"This statement was intended to divide us. It was calculated to
divide us. And to divide us on an issue of safety and security for
the American people - here's the truth - it is un-American," he
"The president of the United States should be willing to say
it's wrong," he said.
Edwards said he and Kerry have a plan to "build one America
that actually works for everybody, not just for a few."
"George Bush and Dick Cheney, their solution for everything is
the same thing, right? More tax cuts for multimillionaires," he
Kerry would restore the United States' respect in the world in
contrast to Bush's "go-it alone policy" which "drives away our
friends and allies," Edwards said.
"The truth is, Iraq is a mess. And it's a mess because of this
president and this vice president. And not only that, during this
administration's watch, Iran has moved forward with nuclear weapons
programs and North Korea has moved forward with nuclear weapons
programs," he said.
Before Edwards' speech, police stepped between about 30
Bush-Cheney backers and a dozen Kerry-Edwards supporters who waved signs, chanted and shouted back and forth at each other at a
protest on the edge of the quad organized by the National College
Gregory Green, 24, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno,
wore a large yellow flip-flop sandal around his neck to ridicule
what he said was Kerry's frequent change of positions on important
"I don't know how people can know what policies Kerry stands
for because he's changed his position so many times on so many
issues, like war," said Green, who said he served five years in
the U.S. Air Force in Iraq.
Other protesters waved a sign that read, "Hanoi John Kerry
changes positions more often than a Nevada prostitute" and "Flush
As the Bush backers chanted "four more years," the Democratic
contingent shouted "no more Bush" and pushed in front of the GOP
group waving yellow signs that read "No More BU-- SH--!"
Police officers told the Edwards supporters to move back out of
the area set aside for protests and reported no trouble after that.
"Reno is a conservative place so we need to give the Democratic
ticket as mush support as we can," said Kyle Isacksen of Reno, one
of the Democratic activists.
"Bush has lost jobs and lost wars. It's a mess. If he were the
executive of a company, he'd be fire," he said.