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Pro-Obama Labor Group Blasts Clinton in Nevada Radio Ad

Updated 7:17 p.m.
By Matthew Mosk
While labor unions have played a heavy role supporting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards during the early state contests this month, Barack Obama has largely had to fend for himself.

No longer. The group UNITE HERE, which represents 440,000 textile and hotel and restaurant workers, gave Obama his first national labor endorsement last week. And this morning, the group filed reports with the Federal Election Commission that disclosed it was producing more than $34,000 in radio ads to air in Nevada in advance of the caucus there.

But Obama will not be alone. Last night, AFSCME's political arm reported it was spending another $30,000 on mailings in Nevada that would support Clinton's candidacy. That adds to two prior $30,000 Nevada mailings the union paid for earlier this week, and a $230,000 expenditure listed as a "media buy" in the state.

The emergence of a labor effort on Obama's behalf touched off a barrage of criticism from both the Clinton camp and aides to Sen. John Edwards, who said they considered it a surprising turn of events given that Obama's campaign was sharply critical of labor organizations that campaigned heavily for Clinton and Edwards in New Hampshire and Iowa.

"He loudly and repeatedly attacked independent ads by unions in Iowa as the product of special interests," said Edwards for President Deputy Campaign Manager Jonathan Prince. "But when a different outside group starts running ads on his behalf in Nevada, there's not a peep from him or his campaign. It must be because he's burning up the phone lines calling the head of UNITE HERE personally to demand he pulls the ads down right away."

Obama press secretary Bill Burton countered that the Illinois senator "has said clearly that campaigns should fund themselves and discourages supporters from spending outside the campaign. But no one should be confused about the effort that was run on behalf of John Edwards in Iowa. In that case, it was not the independent speech of individual union members, each contributing small amounts to amplify their voices. It was a special project of outside donors funding a massive 527 effort run by one of Edwards' top political lieutenants."

The Clinton campaign also took aim at the Obama camp for remaining "strangely silent" now that a labor union is attacking the Clinton campaign.

"In Iowa, Senator Obama and his campaign went out of his way to attack labor unions for independently promoting other candidates. But in Nevada, he's looking the other way as they falsely attack his opponents," said Phil Singer, a Clinton campaign spokesman. "That's wrong. Senator Obama shouldn't be saying one thing about independent groups in Iowa and another in Nevada."

The Clinton camp took particular offense at the tone of the radio spot, which is in Spanish, and targets Hispanic voters.

"Hillary Clinton does not respect our people," the ad says, according to a transcript distributed by the Clinton campaign. "Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday.
This is unforgivable. Hillary Clinton is shameless."

Singer said the Clinton campaign "clearly disagrees with the attacks being made against us," adding that "We do respect the right of labor unions to participate in the process. Senator Obama apparently has no problem with groups running ads as long as they attack others. While that's audacious, it's certainly not hopeful."

Burton, Obama's campaign spokesman, replied in an e-mail, that the Clinton objections "take some chutzpah."

"The fact is their camp clearly would like to have worker's voices silenced and they need to live with that unfortunate position," Burton wrote.

Chris Bohner, a spokesperson for the Culinary Workers Union, an affiliate of UNITE HERE whose Nevada local has endorsed Obama, defended the ad, saying his union's leadership was deeply offended by a lawsuit filed by supporters of Clinton that aimed to shut down nine casino precinct sites for the Nevada Democratic caucuses.

"We can't think of a more negative and disgraceful political tactic than publicly supporting a lawsuit that would disenfranchise thousands of workers, bell hops, dishwashers, housekeepers, recent immigrants who've just become American citizens," Bohner said. "The ad intends to point out the fact that the Clinton campaign is supporting this lawsuit, which is entirely appropriate, and we completely stand by the ad. We've waited for the Clinton campaign to denounce the lawsuit and they didn't."

The ad is running on Spanish radio. Unlike earlier labor efforts undertaken on behalf of Clinton and Edwards in earlier contests, the UNITE HERE commercial is not paid for by an independent "527 group." It is paid for by the union, which is permitted as a means of communicating to its 60,000 members, Bohner said.

The full text of the ad follows:

UNITE Here Negative Ad


Hillary Clinton does not respect our people. Hillary Clinton supporters went to court to prevent working people to vote this Saturday - that is an embarrassment.

Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday.

This is unforgivable.

Hillary Clinton is shameless.

Hillary Clinton should not allow her friends to attack our people's right to vote this Saturday. This is unforgivable, there's no respect

Senator Obama is defending our right to vote. Senator Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people.

Senator Obama's campaign slogan is "Si Se Puede" ("Yes We Can").

Vote for a president that respects us, and that respects our right to vote.

Obama for president, ""Si Se Puede" ("Yes We Can").

Paid for by Unite Here Campaign Committee

Spanish Language

Hillary Clinton no respeta a nuestra gente los partidarios de Hillary Clinton fueron a corte para evitar que la gente que trabaja pueda votar este sábado, eso es vergonzoso. Los partidarios de Hillary Clinton quieren evitar que la gente que trabaja el sábado pueda votar en sus lugares de empleo. ¡Imperdonable! Hillary Clinton no tiene vergüenza.

Hillary Clinton no debería permitir que sus amigos ataquen el derecho de nuestra gente de votar este sábado. Es imperdonable! No hay respeto el senador Barack Obama esta defendiendo nuestro derecho de votar.
El senador Barack Obama quiere nuestros votos, el respeta nuestros votos, nuestra comunidad y a nuestra gente. El lema de la campaña de Barrack Obama es "sí se puede, si se puede". Vote por un presidente que nos respeta y respeta nuestro derecho de votar. Obama para presidente. Si se puede.

Pagada por UNITE HERE

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 17, 2008; 7:17 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , The Hidden Campaign  
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You know it is so early in the campaign game. And the politicians are showing their true colours in these early stages. It is very educational if you are watching carefully. Obama LOST my vote in Nevada!
The way he has handled the Labor Unions and their radio ads has shown that he is capable of dirty politics and suggesting just enough to make people think another candidate is something they are not--whether it be not in favour of their race or their labor union or who knows what it will be next. But it is celar that he is capable of sliding in and out of situations to fool people and that is not good for a future president. NO thanks --NEXT!!!!!! Some Neo-Kennedy--I think NOT!

Posted by: stanislavny | January 19, 2008 1:22 AM | Report abuse

I finally found it, lylepink -- here's a link and story:,BSX-News-wotrees09.stng

If he wins the White House, Barack Obama would by no means be the first President with half-siblings. Bill Clinton and Franklin Delano Roosevelt each had a half-brother . . .

But Obama's immediate family would certainly be one of the more complex in Presidential history.

He has eight half-siblings -- seven of them living -- by four other marriages or relationships of his parents -- his father, Barack Obama Sr., had four children by a woman he married in Kenya before his 1960 marriage to Obama's mother in Hawaii. Two of those children -- son Abongo (Roy} and daughter Auma -- were born before Barack Obama Jr.

After Obama Sr. divorced Obama's mother in 1963, he married another American woman he brought to Kenya and had two more sons -- Mark and David, who was killed in a motorcycle accident. That marriage ended in divorce, after Obama Sr. resumed his relationship with his first wife.

The elder Obama had two other sons -- Abo and Bernard -- by his first wife, though Obama wrote in his memoirs that there is some question whether another man actually fathered Bernard.

Obama Sr. later had another son, George, by a woman he was involved with but apparently did not marry.

As for Obama's mother, the former Stanley Ann Dunham, she had a daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng, from a second marriage to Lolo Soetoro.

Posted by: JakeD | January 19, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

"Intellectually dishonest" describes Obama's insinuation that by failing to stop a union-supported 527 from running ads on his behalf, John Edwards somehow showed poor leadership. As a lawyer, Obama surely understands it is illegal for a candidate to contact a 527 directly. Through the news media in Iowa, Edwards asked that the ads be stopped, which was as much as he was legally permitted to do.

Yes, the 527 in Iowa was managed by a former campaign worker of Edwards, but it was founded BY the union that had endorsed him. (In other words, the union sought out the worker, not the other way around.) Those Iowa ads were positive, standing in stark contrast to the hit pieces described in this article.

Obama has lost my respect, and my vote, for good. Why any union would support him, considering the weakness of his healthcare plan and his ties to Wall Street and the nuclear power industry, is beyond me. The Boston Globe ran a story several weeks ago showing how Obama has co-opted Edwards' populist ideas and language (even some of his jokes!) and apparently, some people have fallen for it. Pretty soon, Americans will figure out that a pretty speech does not a president make; Obama is a politician masquerading as a leader. (Look up the Chicago Tribune story on how he won his state senate seat: by getting all his challengers thrown off the ballot.)

The most ironic part of this story is that the attack ads in Nevada don't involve a 527, which means Obama is free to ask the group to stop the dirty politics he so often decries ....

Posted by: LisaOhio | January 18, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, almost no one commenting here has any idea how the campaign finance system works. The pro-Edwards ad campaign in Iowa was by a 527 run by a close associate of Edwards. The pro-Obama ad campaign in Nevada is an independent expenditure by a union PAC that has endorsed Obama. Obama is not inconsistent on this point.

There is an important difference between 527s and independent expenditures. A 527 is NOT subject to federal campaign finance regulation. The term refers to a section of the federal tax code delineating what kinds of organizations can run political ads and remain tax exempt. A 527 can receive unlimited donations, which was Obama's complaint: A handful of millionaires or well-financed organizations or corporations can create a 527 to run quick hits against a candidate, who is limited by campaign finance law in how he or she can respond.

The union ads being run in Nevada are independent expenditures subject to FEC regulation. That means all contributions are limited by law and publicly disclosed. Now, that's not to say independent expenditures don't have problems of their own. A common complaint is that often they are not all that independent of the campaign they support. But 527s are victim to the very same problem. At least with independent expenditures the contributions are transparent and on a level playing field.

The crucial point is that the union ad buys WERE REPORTED TO THE FEC, whereas 527 ads need not be, not to mention the source of the contributions.

So, criticize the ad campaign if you want, just know what you're talking about.

People who have been around the game as long as Clinton and Edwards certainly know the distinction. The fact that they lump 527s and federally regulated independent expenditures together as though synonymous is intellectually dishonest.

Posted by: jbaughma | January 18, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

As far as the charges of hypocrisy, I fault only the press for reporting the initial charges from Obama. They were not newsworthy, and neither are these.

Posted by: zukermand | January 18, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I think the content of the ad is inaccurate and rude, therefore it is inappropriate.

Posted by: zukermand | January 18, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Media is choosing the candidates who will work for them. The millions in negative TV & radio ads, the worthless coverage on who is crying and who is smiling while soldiers and civilians keep getting killed for our fake democracy. Millions keep suffering while media keeps strengthening its hold on elections. We got one president chosen by the supreme court for political greed, we currently are getting candidates chosen by media for corporate greed.

Obama will not seriously change the way elections are funded with money from lobbyists, wealthy friends, and media moguls (Oprah Winfrey & Robert Johnson). Obama says one thing and does the opposite. He speaks of change & hope while he wants more millions and more hype (following the Iowa caucuses he said he hopes to make the world a "little bit better and a little bit safer').

He has gotten where he is with money and help from wealthy friends. Oprah said she was supporting him because they were friends, she did not speak of specific concerns of most working people, she did not speak of policies, she only said she knew him well so we should give him our hopes, our faith, our dreams and he would inspire each one of our souls, Michelle Obama said he can touch our souls. He keeps using the same old dirty means and is no different than other entrenched profiteers, he will continue with negative campaigns, no different than Romny, Huckabee, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Reagan, etc. No substance, no facts, no hope, no change.

Posted by: graceda | January 18, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

JakeD: Check "Barack Obama Family" I think you will be suprised.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Barack Obama for President of the UNITED States of America.

Posted by: PulSamsara | January 17, 2008 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. We enjoy freedom of speech in this country, and any group should be able to spend their money on ads supporting a particular candidate. Anyone can criticize anyone else but then must accept negative responses to their public statements. Has the news media made a mountain out of a dust mote again here?
What is good about all this is that it is a public discussion of differences - something that has largely been missing for more than seven years during the present Bush/Cheney regieme.
Democrats in Congress have begun investigating the Bush administration for an increasingly number of reasons. We must demand an open government (not secretive deliberations among cronies).

Posted by: LiveFree | January 17, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

The article quotes the ad:

""Hillary Clinton does not respect our people," the ad says, according to a transcript distributed by the Clinton campaign. "Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday.
This is unforgivable. Hillary Clinton is shameless."

RESPONSE: This is more like it!!

All true.Where is the false statement?

You know the ad is effective by the screeching from the Queen.

May this ad be fruitful and multiply.

We need some similar ads reminding the African American community to Hillary's lack of respect.

Posted by: JaxMax | January 17, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

LOL! It is easy to follow Obama's Trail!

Any road his goes down is missing all the "White Lines"!

Hee Hee! ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | January 17, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Rapcetera and tjfrmla:

They were simply honest questions -- I was reminded today about a comprehensive Tribune story on the subject, and I couldn't remember all the names -- thanks for the info.

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

No Hillary crybaby supporters needed here. They think they can weep their to the nomination. So much for the argument!

Posted by: ednyo2000 | January 17, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

JakeD is always looking for dirt/lies/inuendo on Senator Obama.

Like he can change ANYONE'S mind.

Posted by: tjfrmla | January 17, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone actually heard the ad yet?

Posted by: benvos329 | January 17, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone know how many half-sisters and step-fathers Obama had?"

To my knowledge Obama has 2 half sisters. Maya Soetoro-Ng (from his mother's side) and Auma Obama (from his fathers side).

He only had one Step-Father - Lolo Soetoro.

Why do you ask? what does it matter?

Posted by: Rapcetera | January 17, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

"Will Obama ask them to stop running ads for him because they're "special interests", as he demanded John Edwards do in Iowa? "

Oh give me a break!! The group that was airing ad's on behalf of Edwards never publicly endorsed him. And the head of that group used to be one of Edwards campaign managers!!!

Obama situation is vastly different. UNITE HERE has endorsed Obama publicly, hence this ad buy is not a wink wink situation like the Edwards one in Iowa was. The endorsed him, and they are promoting him. End of story! live with it!

Posted by: Rapcetera | January 17, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The first post is a good point. But the Reagan comment is idiotic. He never praised Reagan's political views, what he said is that Reagan was a unifying leader for the republicans and that he wants to be that same figure for the democrats.

Posted by: ndkintzel | January 17, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know how many half-sisters and step-fathers Obama had?

Posted by: JakeD | January 17, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I strongly doubt that he will. He'll be too busy singing the praises of Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: citizen53 | January 17, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Will Obama ask them to stop running ads for him because they're "special interests", as he demanded John Edwards do in Iowa?

Posted by: rdklingus | January 17, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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