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As Democrat Candidates Bank on a Nevada Caucus Boost, Some Fear an Iowa-Style Disaster


With the Nevada caucuses coming up this Saturday, the Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning hard in the western state. 

This is the third big contest for the candidates, and with Sen. Bernie Sanders pulling ahead after his win in New Hampshire, the other candidates are all fighting for a chance to score their own victory.

The candidate with possibly the most on the line is former Vice President Joe Biden after his poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's gone on the attack against socialist front-runner Sanders, criticizing his health care plans.

"He's been talking about health care, 'Medicare for all', universal health care for 35 years," Biden said. "Nothing has happened. I helped get passed Obamacare." 

Sanders and other Democratic candidates have another target - multi-billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Even though he isn't running in Nevada, he has been rising in the polls as he invests heavily in campaign ads, hoping for a big score in the later contests.

"He thinks he can buy this election. Well, I got news for Mr. Bloomberg, and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections," Sanders said. 

Speaking with NBC News on Meet the Press on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said Bloomberg cannot continue to hide behind the airwaves. 

"He is running more ads on whatever he wants. I think what needs to happen is that he needs to go on shows - which he hasn't done," she said. "He just can't hide behind the airwaves. He has to answer questions and I think he should be on that debate stage, which eventually he will be."

"I can't beat him on the airwaves, but I can beat him on the debate stage," Klobuchar added.

The Drudge Report said this weekend that Bloomberg was considering Hillary Clinton as a running mate - a report that the Bloomberg campaign did not confirm nor deny.

Shortly after Drudge reported the news, Bloomberg tweeted a random message touting that he supports women in the workplace.

In Nevada, early voting is underway. At one caucus site at the East Las Vegas Library, voters waited in line for up to 40 minutes on Saturday morning. 

The state Democratic Party tweeted that early voting is going well: "We are very excited to share that as of 5:00 p.m., we had more than 11,800 Nevada Democrats participate in the first day of our historic four-day early vote period!"

After the Iowa caucus vote-counting debacle, all eyes are on Nevada's caucus to see if similar problems will arise. Democrats there have ditched the problematic app that undermined the vote in Iowa, but there are still reports that Democrats are nervous that a proper replacement system hasn't been worked out yet.

"We have been banned from using the 'app' word, but nobody has told us what a tool is exactly what or how we'll do it," caucus site leader Seth Morrison told ABC News

It has since been revealed that the state party will use a "caucus calculator" to aid in tallying the voting data for each precinct. Nevada's "calculator" is supposed to help figure out some of the more complicated caucus math.

"It feels like the (state party is) making it up as they go along," a Democratic presidential aide told the Washington Post. "That's not how we need to be running an election."

"If the party had this process well-defined and had confidence in it, I think that we'd know a lot more about it," another Democratic aide said.

Meanwhile, Iowa's Democratic Party leaders say it wasn't a hack or an intrusion that caused so much chaos earlier this month. There were more concerns about "quality checks" and "inconsistencies," blaming the new app that was designed to help the reporting.

The calculator used in Nevada will have a built-in caucus math formula to calculate totals for the precinct chairs. They are not required to use the calculator, simply replacing it with paper worksheets.

The Nevada caucus takes place Feb. 22, followed by the South Carolina Democratic primaries on Feb. 29. 

The biggest event for Democrats comes on Super Tuesday, March 3 with primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia.

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