Clinton courts unions; gets Culinary's nod

Clinton addresses AFSCME at the Las Vegas Convention Center 7/19/16 (Reed Cowan | KSNV)

No big surprise, really. But today it was official: UNITE HERE, a union of 270,000 strong, and its affiliate, Culinary Union Local 226, endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

Clinton, in Las Vegas, marked the moment at the Culinary Training Academy on West Lake Mead.

"I am so excited to be here with all of you," Clinton said, "and to have this endorsement of such a diverse group of hard-working people, who are the backbone of our economy, not only in Las Vegas and Nevada but across the United States."

With more than 57,000 members, the Culinary is Nevada's biggest and most politically powerful union. The official endorsement today certifies what had been expected: that the Culinary will go "all in" this fall to get Clinton, and Democrats, elected in November.

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"I know that Donald Trump fought against you at his Las Vegas hotel," Clinton told the crowd, referring to the Culinary's long-running battle to unionize Trump's Strip resort. "I was with you twice in front of the property and on a picket line," she said.

Clinton supports something unions, like the Culinary, have long wanted, which is to end the so-called Obamacare "Cadillac tax" on high-value health plans. The tax hits union members, who have expensive coverage, hard. Clinton wants to repeal it.

Her appearance at the Culinary Training Academy was her second stop in Las Vegas. Her first came at the Las Vegas Convention Center, with an appearance before the huge public sector union AFSCME. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees endorsed Clinton last October.

She asked the crowd, some 6,000 strong if they had seen and of the GOP convention last night.

"Last night in Cleveland was surreal," Clinton said, comparing it to the movie "Wizard of Oz." "Lots of sound and fury, even a fog machine, but when you pulled back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump, with nothing to offer the American people," she said.

Among AFSCME's 1.6 million members are police officers. Clinton's visit Tuesday came two days after three police officers were ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge, and more than a week after five officers was killed in Dallas.

"If you take aim at police officers you take aim at all of us," Clinton told the audience. "There can be no justification for killing a police officer."

The shootings were done in revenge for police killings of African Americans. Clinton called for "investing in the training that our police need to the proper use of force."

Clinton's target Tuesday was clearly her Republican opponent, who officially won the Republican nomination Tuesday night. Trump accepts the nomination in Cleveland on Thursday.

Clinton portrayed Trump as a bullying businessman who doesn't play by the rules.

"Donald Trump's business model is basically fraud and abuse," Clinton claimed. As for Trump's call to make "America First," Clinton said "Trump ties come from China, not North Carolina. Trump suits were made in Mexico, not Ohio. Trump furniture is from Turkey, Trump picture frames from India," she said. "If Donald Trump wants to make America great again he should actually start making things in America again," she added.

Traditionally, parties used to leave each other alone during their respective conventions. That's an antique in today's 24-hour news cycle, and today Clinton used her address as a broadside against Trump's character.

"A man who plays coy with white supremacists and mocks disabled people, who demean women and immigrants, who's talked about banning an entire religion from entering our country, we in America are better than that," Clinton said.

"America is better than Donald Trump," she continued.

Trump has charged Clinton is untrustworthy and dishonest. Republicans were unimpressed with Clinton's appearance before AFSCME.

"Hillary Clinton's eagerness to put big government special interests will do nothing to Make America Work Again," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "Promising more tax dollars for the government in exchange for votes is exactly the kind of rigged system Hillary Clinton has long benefited from."

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