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Democrats' Idealism vs. Pragmatism Debate Plays Out In Nevada

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Reno warehouse worker Tarajee Hughes, 22, says she plans to caucus for Hillary Clinton on Saturday.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are campaigning in Nevada Friday ahead of Saturday's Democratic caucuses. Conversations with voters in Reno suggest that trust is a key issue for supporters of both candidates.

The two campaigns view the race as very tight and say turnout will be crucial.

Jolene Cook, a 34-year-old grocery store worker, says she's "obsessed" with the caucuses because she finds Bernie Sanders’s "money is corrupting politics" message "inspiring."

"I wanted to vote for Clinton because obviously I'm a woman and I wanted to have a part of the first female president,” says Cook. “But I don't trust her. I think that she is part of the establishment."

Tarajee Hughes, a 22-year-old warehouse worker, says it's Clinton she trusts to help women achieve equal pay.

"I don't think Bernie Sanders (is) gonna hold his word when he get (sic) there -- if he get (sic) there," Hughes says, as she exits a south Reno pet store with her dog. "So I'm just going for the person who I think is truly being honest and passionate about it."

The idealism-versus-pragmatism battle playing out nationally appears to be on the minds of Nevada voters, too.

As she shops at the Great Basin Community Food Co-Op in downtown Reno, 25-year-old personal chef Juliana Bledsoe says she'll caucus for Sanders because she's paying off student loans and agrees with his call for free tuition at public colleges and universities.

Asked about Clinton's criticism of that proposal as not feasible, Bledsoe says she "definitely" agrees it's a "reasonable criticism, because when I first saw that, I kind of raised a brow as well. But you kind of have to start somewhere. So I realize that he's a pretty radical choice, but change doesn't always come easy."

Yet for another Co-Op shopper, 59-year-old University of Nevada Reno biology professor Mary Peacock, feasibility - and electability - matter.

Although Clinton has "baggage," Peacock says, "she has a lot of 'street cred' and a lot of experience. I think against Republicans that she has a better chance. I really like Bernie's ideas, but I think that (Republicans are) really gonna try to hammer him on the socialist side of it, even though he's a social Democrat."

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