BOULDER CITY, Nev. — The Democratic presidential candidates who made the trip to the “Damboree” on the morning of the Fourth of July say that this classic Nevada celebration better represents America than the military showcase headlined by President Donald Trump back in Washington, D.C.
After flipping pancakes and marching in a parade, Sen. Cory Booker praised the atmosphere, which featured supporters of a handful of 2020 Democratic candidates.
“Look, I think what you saw here is just a community, this incredible town holding its people together with a spirit of unity, spirit of celebrating our nation, and that’s what we need to be continuing to focus on,” said Booker, a New Jersey Democrat.
The 71st annual event began with traditional outdoor pancake breakfast, with both Booker and 2020 rival Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts taking turns flipping pancakes on a giant griddle and shaking hands and taking selfies with supporters and undecided voters.
Booker spent a long time serving pancakes, working multiple stints and trying to tell jokes while stalling for time as the attendees waited out delays in the production process.
Democrats were a much more visible force, though the parade route featured a few pro-Trump signs and red “Make America Great Again” hats.
“The Boulder City parade is a parade that reflects our values” as a country of, by and for the people, Moulton said in an interview Wednesday. “Trump’s militaristic parade in Washington, D.C., reminds me of the Soviet Union.”
“Trump thinks that having some tanks in your parade is patriotic. Actually, that’s pretty un-American. What’s patriotic is serving your country, is following the Constitution,” Moulton said. “None of which Trump has been willing to do.”
Tanks and armored vehicles were on display in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday ahead of the “Salute to America” where Trump was to speak after flyovers by military jets and performances by military bands. The tanks were brought in by rail and truck and placed on site.
The Nevada July Fourth pancake breakfast is basically a mandatory stop for politicians in the southern part of Clark County. Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen was among the attendees this year.
“We’re in historic Boulder City, and the reason Boulder City’s historic is because it was built as a city to build Hoover Dam,” Rosen told CQ Roll Call. “This pancake breakfast, this community’s been here a long time.”
She said that Boulder City was in many ways emblematic of the kinds of cities and towns that comprise the Silver State.
“What I try to tell people about Nevada is that you might know us for beautiful Lake Tahoe or Las Vegas strip, but we’re a string of communities that have been here a long time, people who deeply care and are committed to each other,” Rosen said.
Among political figures, it probably wasn’t Rosen or Moulton or Booker who was the most important attendee at the Damboree. That honor might go to Duncan McCoy.
A former city councilman here and a Vietnam veteran who told CQ Roll Call that he served aboard two ships during the war and did two tours, McCoy used a Black and Decker power drill with a long egg-beater attachment to mix gallon after gallon of pancake batter.
McCoy had joked with Booker that he was one of roughly 17 Democrats who reside in Boulder City, but McCoy later said that was not meant to be taken literally.
“There are more Democrats than that in Boulder City, but Boulder City is generally considered lock-down Republican. There’s about 60 percent, 65 percent of the voters here are Republicans or claim to be,” McCoy said. “There’s a vocal minority of Democrats. You’ll run into some of them today.”
McCoy described himself as an undecided voter, and he did not expect to make any commitments for the 2020 Nevada caucus so early in the process. The Nevada caucuses are the first in the west, taking place following the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary.
“I’m thinking about it. I watched the debates. I thought there were a number of people who did pretty well. Kamala Harris was good, Cory Booker was good. Mayor Buttigeig was very good,” McCoy said. “It’s too early to tell who we’re going to support.”