President Clinton Makes One Last Plea to Casino Employees

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Jan 19, 2008 3:15pm

ABC News’ Sarah Amos and Eloise Harper report: Former President Clinton spent the morning urging casino employees in Las Vegas to come out to caucus for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., today. Clinton, along with his daughter Chelsea, shook hands and took pictures with the employees at the MGM Grand and Planet Hollywood hotels, urging them all to go out and vote.

Clinton also spoke to reporters about what he calls "unfair tactics" being used by those who are against his wife’s campaign.

"Well, we were worried about people, even more people, being prevented from voting if they were voting for Hillary. Because yesterday, Chelsea and I were going through one of the hotels and there someone was, going behind us, saying ‘if you vote for Hillary, we are going to give you a job assignment that keeps you from going to the caucus.’ And I haven’t seen tactics like that in decades," said Clinton.

The Culinary Union has strongly denied any rumors that their union is strong-arming members to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Clinton, however, finds that hard to believe, telling reporters, "My daughter heard them. My daughter is a scrupulously honest person. She heard what they were saying and they know what they are doing."

Clinton has been very vocal about his issues with the Culinary Union and their involvement in the caucus process, telling voters last night about the supposed union leader who followed him and his daughter at the Bellagio yesterday. However, Chelsea, as always with the media, has stayed quiet on the issue. Today, her focus was simply about getting people out to caucus for her mom, and she has made no mention of possible union strong-arming.

The Clinton campaign has made a concerted effort to focus attention on the actual members of the Culinary Union in the past week. They are betting that, while the union may have sided with Obama, the members will stay loyal to the Clintons and come out to support Hillary.

If the president’s visits to cafeterias and break rooms are any indication, the Clinton campaign might just be right about that gamble. Everywhere the former president went, he was greeted by large crowds, fighting to get close enough for hugs or photos on their camera phones. Many in the crowd told him they were committed to supporting his wife.

"I am grateful for your welcome and hope that you go out and support her today," Clinton urged employees at Planet Hollywood, as he spoke to the entire crowd explaining why going out to caucus was so crucial.

The fight over casino employees, a large percentage of the Las Vegas community, has gotten particularly tense in the past week. Supporters of Hillary Clinton, and members of the teachers’ union unsuccessfully filed a lawsuit, challenging the fairness of having special precincts set up at casinos for their employees. Obama supporters have also been running a series of Spanish attack ads against Clinton.

Of course, now, with the caucus process underway, all either side can do is hope that all their hand shaking and visits to towns across the state of Nevada will add up to the jackpot in today’s caucus.

During a conference call Saturday with reporters, communications director for the Clinton camp, Howard Wolfson, declined to comment on whether or not the president had plans to file a formal complaint regarding the intimidation of voter tactics.

"I haven’t talked to the president since he made those comments. It’s a fair question, but it’s one where I’m going to have to speak to him before I can [comment]," Wolfson said.

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