Can organized labor stop the Clintons?

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed restrictions on a wide array of industries Thursday and stepped up her assault on rival Barack Obama. “For seven long years, we’ve had a government of, by, and for the special interests, and we’ve had enough,” the New York senator told an audience at a General Motors plant that she toured here. “It’s time to level the playing field against the special interests and deliver 21st-century solutions to rebuild the middle class.”

She said she would rein in oil, insurance, credit card, student loan and Wall Street investment companies and generate $55 billion a year that would be used to cut middle class taxes, create jobs and pay for an array of domestic programs. Meanwhile, Obama won the backing of the United Food and Commercial Workers and is expected to be endorsed today by the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU backing is one of the most important labor endorsements available. The organization has donated more than $25 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, since 1989. In addition, the union has a powerful get-out-the-vote structure and has been courted by all the Democratic candidates since the beginning of the race.

Clinton got some good news Thursday: A marathon hand count of 17,000 provisional ballots in New Mexico showed her to be the winner of the state’s Democratic caucus. She picked up one extra delegate.

The final statewide count gave her a 1,709-vote edge over rival Obama, 73,105 or 48.8 percent of the total vote to 71,396 or 47.6 percent.

But in a fresh sign of trouble among black superdelegates, Rep. John Lewis, one of Clinton’s most prominent supporters, said Thursday he planned to vote for Obama.

Another black congressman, Rep. David Scott of Georgia, defected earlier in the week, saying he would not go against the will of voters in his district, who overwhelmingly supported Obama.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri said he remained committed to Clinton. “There’s nothing going on right now that would cause me to” change, he said.

Cleaver offered a glimpse of private conversations.

He said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois had recently asked him, “If it comes down to the last day and you’re the only superdelegate. … Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the White House?

“I told him I’d think about it,” Cleaver said.


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