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Bill Clinton urges NYC unions to get out the vote for Hillary

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to members of

Former President Bill Clinton speaks to members of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York on Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Manhattan, as he campaigns for his wife, Hillary Clinton, before New York's April 19 Democratic primary. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Former President Bill Clinton on Thursday urged the city’s most influential unions to get out the vote for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, saying turnout is key to her victory in New York’s April 19 primary.

“We have to get more people to the polls, and the only we can do it is through organization,” Bill Clinton told the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “The labor movement is going to determine how this election turns out in New York City and in many other places in this state.”

Clinton campaigned for the Democratic front-runner at union offices throughout Manhattan, speaking also to the health-care workers of 1199 SEIU, the municipal employees of AFSCME’s District Council 37 and the American Federation of Teachers and its city counterpart, United Federation of Teachers.

Some unions welcomed him with boisterous rallies, incorporating Hillary Clinton’s campaign logo into signs with their colors.

At each event, Bill Clinton evoked his wife’s work as U.S. senator for New York on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act for ailing first responders.

“She stayed in touch with people she’d met who were injured for years and years and years afterward to make sure that no one was left behind,” Clinton said.

Gary LaBarbera, president of the building trades union, which includes construction workers who toiled on the pile, said his members would “mobilize” for Hillary Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton had our back, we have her back,” he said.

Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, said several in his group were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Our members rushed toward the wreckage to save as many lives as possible,” Saunders said, adding of Clinton, “She was right there, coming to our aid.”

Bill Clinton said his wife has connected with New Yorkers throughout the state, from working-class city residents to farming families on Long Island. Clinton recalled a Republican farm bureau leader on Long Island who said he supported Hillary Clinton in her Senate re-election bid because she delivers.

Long-shot GOP hopeful John Kasich, meanwhile, told reporters in Times Square that Donald Trump’s supporters should be backing him instead. Kasich said he understands their economic frustrations and called Trump “unmoored.”

The Ohio governor responded to Trump’s comment that women who have had abortions should face “punishment” if the procedures become illegal. Trump, a real estate mogul who is leading the Republican pack, has walked back the remark.

Kasich said Trump’s proposal would “put women in a very difficult position.”

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