Biden adviser courts younger voters, says they want results

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign is courting young people and pushing back against the notion that his more centrist approach is less likely to win over the youth vote than more progressive candidates.

Symone Sanders, a 30-year-old senior adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign, visited Nevada Thursday and Friday to reach out to young professionals and voters of color, hosting a trivia night and happy hour in Las Vegas.

“I think our campaign gets a bad rap sometimes from folks who are looking at this campaign through the lens of Twitter and saying that we don’t have the support of young people,” Sanders told The Associated Press. “As a young person, as the young people that are right here at the table, we take an affront to that.”

She pushed back on the idea that younger voters are more skeptical of his moderate approach that has touted his ability to work across the aisle. Young people are a dynamic group that don’t just include college students -- with the oldest millennials in their mid-30s with families and mortgages, she said.

“Young people want government that works for them,” Sanders said.

Candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are both running on the most progressive end of the Democratic field, have drawn in younger voters with some of the boldest plans on higher education and debt, among other issues, though they have faced questions about how they’d get plans passed through a divided Congress. The two Democrats have proposed universal free access to all undergraduate public colleges and universities and canceling much, if not all, existing student debt.

Biden has put for a more limited approach, calling for free community college, increasing federal financial aid and forgiving remaining student debt after 20 years of payments.

On health care, Sanders and Warren have proposed Medicare for All plans that move the country to a government-run insurance system and eliminate private health insurance. Biden and others in the field like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have said they don’t want to go that far. They have instead proposed a government-run plan as an option, without taking away existing plans. Those proposals are expected to be easier to pass than Medicare for All.

Symone Sanders, without naming other candidates, said Thursday that putting forward “bold plans without a plan to implement that plan is a pie-in-the-sky situation” that will hit a wall with younger people who want results.

That’s the message she and Biden’s campaign are working to bring to young people as they are trying to get them to turn out at Nevada’s February caucuses. The caucus meetings, where voters have to turn up in person for several hours and show their support for a candidate, can be harder for younger people, new voters or busy voters to wrap their heads around.

Sanders said the campaign is trying to familiarize young people with the Nevada Democratic Party’s caucus procedures, along with the four days of early caucus voting the party will offer next year.