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Pro-Obama Union Weighs In On Ad Controversy

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A powerful Nevada union behind a new ad that is sharply critical of Sen. Hillary Clinton will support the eventual Democratic presidential nominee even if it is Clinton, a union official said Friday.

Unite Here, an umbrella union that includes the 60,000-member Nevada Culinary Workers, released a Spanish-language ad on Thursday calling Clinton "shameless," and charging that she "does not respect our people." The union, which has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama, is outraged that Clinton's campaign publicly supported a lawsuit that would have shut down several caucus locations at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, where many of its members work.

In an interview with the Huffington Post on Friday, Culinary Workers spokesman Chris Bohner would not pledge to back Clinton should she win the Democratic nomination. "We're not going to make any kind of speculation like that," said Bohner. "We wouldn't comment on that question, we're just going to focus on tomorrow." Bohner noted that "historically, we have supported the Democratic nominee in presidential races."

Subsequently, D. Taylor, treasurer and secretary for the Culinary Workers, told Hotline On Call's Jennifer Skalka that there was "no doubt" the union would support the eventual Democratic nominee. "I don't care whether it's John Edwards, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton," Taylor said. "Anything's better than the current administration."

Bohner pressed, however, that Culinary members are "really upset" at Clinton for supporting a lawsuit that he said "would have disenfranchised thousands of workers on the Strip," claiming it raised questions "about the Clinton campaign's support for our members' right to vote."

Last November, former senator John Edwards provoked a harsh response from his rivals and Democratic activists when he would not commit to backing his party's nominee. Edwards clarified his comments one day later, saying, "I fully expect to support the Democratic nominee, and I fully expect to be the Democratic nominee."

Both Edwards and Clinton have criticized Obama over the Unite Here ad, noting that Obama's campaign had earlier criticized his two rivals for standing by as supportive unions -- which the Obama campaign referred to as "special interests" -- paid for ads in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Bohner rejected the comparison. "We're not an out of state union. We're a 60,000-member union in Nevada, we're communicating with our members and it is not analogous to anything in Iowa and New Hampshire."

He said that AFSCME, a national union supporting Clinton, has spent extensively on advertising on Nevada despite having only a "handful" of members in the state.

Bohner would not comment on the Obama campaign's use of the term "special interests" to describe unions.