From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli and NBC's Abby Livingston, Sarah Demarest, and Mark Murray
LAS VEGAS -- Bill Clinton today defended a state NEA-backed lawsuit over caucus sites, saying that all Democrats should play by the same rules.
Clinton was asked about the suit this morning by a student at Green Valley High School, located in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. He said that, in essence, state Democrats made "a special rule only for" members of the Culinary union, the most powerful in the state, to be able to caucus at their work sites rather than at their home precincts. "I think the rules oughta be the same for everybody," he said. "I question why you would ever have a temporary caucus site and say only the people that work there -- i.e. the people that we know are going to vote in a certain way or we think they will -- should be able to caucus here. I think that we oughta make it more possible for everybody to vote."
(Of course, we'll ask again: If the Culinary Workers had endorsed Hillary, would there even be a lawsuit? And if so, would Bill be defending it?)
When asked next about the Culinary Workers endorsing Obama over Hillary, Clinton claimed that the campaign's voter outreach found that many members actually support his wife. "It will be interesting if they will be able to do so because you have to vote in public [at the caucus]," he said. "I believe if the test is who's got the best voting record for labor the answer is she does."
Speaking later at an event in Las Vegas, Clinton again emphasized the downside of a caucus rather than a primary. He claimed that polling taken in Nevada since Hillary's victory in the New Hampshire primary showed her with a steady lead among state Democrats, but that caucuses "may not be about public support." He implored the audience to "give voice to the majority." "Don't let other people out organize you," he said.
Bill Clinton is on the second day of a trip to the Silver State, which he called "a special, unusual, wonderful place." Chelsea Clinton joined him for the event in Henderson this morning, and he actually invited students to ask her questions as well as him. No one asked Chelsea a question, but she did come in handy when one of the students standing behind Clinton on stage became faint during the event. Chelsea walked her off the stage, and then rejoined the students who remained as they then sat, rather than stood, behind the former president.