From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller and NBC's Christina Jamison
A Spanish-language radio ad slamming Clinton on behalf of Obama has all three Democratic campaigns up in arms.
UNITE HERE, which has endorsed Obama and is the parent union of the Culinary Workers Union, paid for the ad. In its English translation, the ad charges that Clinton has tried to disenfranchise "working people." It calls the move "unforgivable" and the New York senator "shameless." Then it continues to persuade listeners to support Obama.
"Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote," the man says. "Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people. Sen. Obama's campaign slogan is "Sí Se Puede, Sí se puede." ("Yes We Can"). Vote for a president that respects us and that respects our right to vote."
This independent radio ad refers to the lawsuit by the state teachers union -- which technically neutral but is also led by some Clinton supporters –- over the Nevada Democratic Party setting up special caucus sites for Las Vegas Strip casino workers. Many of those workers are members of the Culinary Union, Nevada's largest and most influential union, which has endorsed Obama. A federal judge yesterday upheld these caucus sites.
Edwards cried foul yesterday, comparing these ads to the TV ad local SEIU chapters ran on Edwards' behalf in Iowa shortly before its caucuses. At that time, Obama insisted that Edwards should denounce the ads publicly, adding that Edwards' former campaign manager ran the organization coordinating the ads. Edwards did denounce the ad, which only mentioned the former North Carolina senator's health-care plan in a positive light; it didn't mention any other candidates.
In separate statements yesterday from Edwards and senior adviser Jonathan Prince the Edwards campaign called on Obama to denounce the Nevada ads. Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded last night: "Sen. Obama believes, and 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."
For its part, Clinton's campaign hosted a conference call yesterday afternoon with two members of its Hispanic Leadership Council, Dolores Huerta (a co-founder of the United Farm Workers) and Maria Echaveste (who served as a deputy chief of staff for President Bill Clinton). The women called on Obama to distance himself from the ad, which they labeled "desperate."