January 19, 2008
Bill Clinton says he witnessed voter suppression
Bill Clinton, speaking at a Vegas YMCA last night, made more charges against Obama and claimed to have, with Chelsea, personally witnessed voter suppression by the Culinary Workers:
There is this whole business of the new politics. Well I got a taste of the new politics today. We need a new politics where we all love each other. You’ve heard all that. There’s a radio ad up in the northern part of Nevada telling Republicans that they ought to just register as Democrats for a day so they can beat Hillary and go out and be Republicans next week and vote in the primary. Doesn’t sound like the new politics to me.
Today when my daughter and I were wandering through the hotel, and all these culinary workers were mobbing us telling us they didn’t care what the union told them to do, they were gonna caucus for Hillary.
There was a representative of the organization following along behind us going up to everybody who said that, saying 'if you’re not gonna vote for our guy were gonna give you a schedule tomorrow so you can’t be there.' So, is this the new politics? I haven’t seen anything like that in America in 35 years. So I will say it again – they think they're better than you.
(The transcript was provided by one source with a recording of the event, and confirmed by another.)
To go over the facts here, the only publicly reported radio ad anything like what Clinton refers to is one that encourages Republicans and independents to caucus, but doesn't mention Hillary.
And the Vegas papers haven't found any evidence of the kind of straightforward voter suppression Clinton reports. The Obama campaign has suggested the Clinton campaign file formal complaints if it has evidence.
"This is ludicrous," Culinary Workers political director Pilar Weiss told Politico. She said the union is "aware that some workers aren't going to vote our way" and doesn't engage in intimidation.
"The fact that they lost a lawsuit aimed at suppressing workers' votes, and that now they're trying to hold on to these baseless claims is ridiculous," she said.
Weiss also said Clinton's claim is "technically impossible." Clinton supporters can ask union organizers -- who are actively promoting Obama's candidacy -- to add their names to the lists of workers who will take time off to caucus today. But signs posted around the casinos advertise another avenue to get the time off: Workers can go around the union and ask their managers directly.
"We have found it shocking that President Clinton has gotten so engaged in promoting these accusations," she said.