By Scott Sonner
Associated Press

RENO — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders declared in Nevada on Monday he has an “excellent chance” of winning all three of the earliest presidential-selection states en route to unseating President Donald Trump in November, calling him the “most dangerous president in the history of this country.”

Without naming them, he also said some of his Democratic rivals who claim to have working people’s best interests at heart continue to accept campaign contributions from billionaires who are seeking favors in return.

“This is a campaign that is dependent upon the working class of this country, that stands with the working class of this country and will develop policies which protect the working class of this country,” Sanders said.

Polls show former Vice President Joe Biden has a slight lead in Nevada in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sanders close behind.

Sanders has the biggest team in the state, with more than 70 paid staffers. He also has a well of support in northern Nevada and Reno’s Washoe County, where he beat Hillary Clinton three years ago but failed to win the statewide Democratic nod because of her strength in Las Vegas.

“We think we have an excellent chance to win here in Nevada,” he told more than 200 people during a speech Monday at a community center on tribal land in Carson City.

“We have an excellent chance in Iowa and New Hampshire. If we win those three states, we’ll be on the way to a victory to transform this country,” he said. He didn’t mention the key primary that follows those three in South Carolina.

Later Monday, he told a standing-room only crowd of about 900 people at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center that Americans “are sick and tired of a handful of billionaires running this country.”

“I have a feeling the people of Nevada are ready for a political revolution,” Sanders said to loud cheers.

He described Trump as the “most dangerous president in the history of this country” — a liar, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe and a xenophobe who is “running the most corrupt administration in modern history.”

Earlier Monday, Sanders endorsed a ban on energy exploration in northeast Nevada’s rugged Ruby Mountains and released a statement saying his administration would immediately end all new and existing fossil fuel extraction on U.S. federal lands.

Sanders told the Elko Daily Free Press before a rally in rural Elko Sunday he also wants to study the idea of charging mining companies royalties on precious metals like gold and silver for the first time. He was headed to Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Sanders said in Carson City that he believes his Democratic presidential campaign is the only one that has not received any contributions from billionaires.

“One of my Democratic opponents has received contributions I believe form 44 billionaires. Another candidate is busy going around the country to wealthy people’s homes raising a whole bunch of money,” he said, without naming either.

“They will not influence me,” he said.

Sanders said his campaign has received about 4.2 million contributions from about 1.2 million separate Americans, averaging $18 each.

“What we have accomplished in terms of the number of contributions and number of individuals is more than any candidate in the history of the United States of America,” he said.