Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bill Clinton Gets Riled Over Nevada Strip Caucuses

SFGate Former President Bill Clinton got positively riled -- as in steely-eyed -- today when pressed by a local TV reporter on the issue of lawsuits filed by Sen. Hillary Clinton's Nevada supporters to challenge the Jan. 19 Democratic "at large'' caucus locations that will serve workers on the Las Vegas strip. Many of those workers are members of the 60,000-strong Culinary Workers Union -- which has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama.... But it got fiery indeed when San Francisco's ABC 7 News bulldog politics reporter Mark Matthews grabbed him afterwards and pressed him on the Nevada lawsuits. Matthews asked politely why the ''at-large'' caucus locations have been challenged by members of the teachers union -- many of them Hillary supporters. (The critics say the Strip location caucuses will give culinary union members an unfair advantage, one other workers don't have, to participate in the Nevada caucuses during their work hours.)
The caucus is held during the day on Saturday. Most people, and most teachers do not work on Saturday. The culinary workers do work on Saturday.
Matthews asked Clinton about the perception that the challenges were filed only after the culinary union's recent Obama endorsement.

Clinton, just inches from his face, fired back. ''There were teachers who filed the lawsuit.
Teachers who want to be able to dominate the caucuses and not worry about culinary workers who are supporting a different candidate.
You have asked the question in an accusatory way, so I will ask you back,'' the former president said. ''Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give people who worked in the casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct?''
Can all of the culinary workers take time off for the entire caucus? Maybe only 20% of them will be able to take time off work, so one worker must represent four others who are still working.
''Did you know that? Their votes will be counted five times more powerfully, in terms of delegates to the state convention, compared to delegates to the national convention.''
If the culinary workers union had backed Clinton, and the teachers union had backed Obama, do you think Bill Clinton's opinion would be different?

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