Ad: ‘Hillary Clinton Does Not Respect Our People’

Ben Smith, politico.com, January 17, 2007

The radio ad aired by one of Obama’s labor allies re-injects ethnicity into the Democratic primary contest in sharp terms.

“Hillary Clinton does not respect our people,” the ad says in Spanish {snip} referring to the lawsuit that failed today to shut down special caucus sites on Las Vegas’ strip. “Hillary Clinton is shameless.”

“Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people. Sen. Obama’s campaign slogan is ‘Si Se Puede.’ Vote for a president who respects us, and who respects our right to vote,” the ad says, according to a transcript provided by the Clinton campaign and confirmed in part by a union official.

{snip}

“It’s pathetic and it’s sad and it’s unfortunate that they have to stoop so low,” said Dolores Huerta, a longtime Hispanic labor leader who supports Clinton. She said she had never met Obama in her years of working on Hispanic causes, and suggested the ad was prompted by his lack of Hispanic support.

{snip}

The political director for the textile and hotel workers’ union UNITE-HERE, Tom Snyder, confirmed a portion of the transcript, and defended the decision to run it.

“We’re doing this because forces allied with her campaign are trying to keep our members out of voting through this lawsuit, which neither Senator Clinton nor former President Clinton have denounced,” he said.

{snip}


A union with ties to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton failed in court Thursday to prevent casino workers from caucusing at special precincts on the Las Vegas strip.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan was presumed to be a boost for Clinton rival Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential caucuses Saturday because he has been endorsed by the union representing many of the shift workers who will be able to use the precincts.

“State Democrats have a First Amendment right to association, to assemble and to set their own rules,” Mahan said.

Nevada’s Democratic Party approved creation of the precincts to make it easier for housekeepers, waitresses and bellhops to caucus during the day near work rather than have to do so in their neighborhoods.

The state teachers union, which has ties to Clinton, brought the suit against the special precincts shortly after local 226 of the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama for the Democratic nomination. The union is the largest in Nevada, with 60,000 members. The Clinton campaign said it was not involved in the suit.

The suit contended party rules allowing the precincts gave too much power to the casino workers and violated federal equal protection guarantees.

But the judge said, “We aren’t voting here, we’re caucusing. That’s something that parties decide.”

{snip}

Campaigning in San Francisco, Obama welcomed the judge’s decision, saying, “Any alternation would have disenfranchised maids, dishwashers, bellhops, people who work on the strip. Some of the people who set up the rules apparently didn’t think that we would be as competitive as we were and tried to change at the last minute.”

{snip}

In a statement, the Clinton campaign pointed out that other voters won’t receive the same advantages as the bellhops and waitresses along the strip.

{snip}

Opponents of the strip precincts said they could be more valuable in the delegate count than some sparsely populated counties, giving them too much clout. The Culinary Union said the suit was an attempt to disenfranchise its members. “Backers of Hillary Clinton are suing in court to take away our right to vote in the caucuses,” a union flier said.

{snip}

Obama has also collected the endorsement of the Nevada chapter of the Service Employees International Union. The close nature of the contest and the logistics of caucuses created an intense struggle for labor’s support, given its ability to organize and mobilize.

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