AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka has choice words on GOP presidential hopefuls, calling Scott Walker “a national disgrace,” and referring to Rick Perry as vacuous: “There’s no there.”
The union chief also refused to name any candidates or office-holders the union coalition would target for defeat in 2016.
Trumka made the scathing remarks at a press breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Trumka, arguably the nation’s most powerful figure in organized labor, said of Walker's chances for the Republican nomination: “We’ll see where that ends up — he’s running fifth in Iowa [polls] now.”
When I asked him, Trumka recalled that he vowed in 2013 to make Wisconsin a top political target in 2014 (because of Walker’s championship of pension reform for some public employees) and said, “We will be in Texas in a bigger way than we were.”
Of course, Walker was re-elected and Texas went Republican across the board. I then asked who the AFL-CIO planned to target in 2016.
“We actually made tremendous gains in Texas,” he said, in all likelihood referring to Democrats elected at the local level. (Republicans swept the governorship and all statewide offices last fall, and retained substantial majorities in both houses of the state legislature.) “Our efforts at education [of voters] continues to grow.”
Trumka added: “We haven’t decided yet. We’re involved in Kentucky [in which right-to-work Republican Matt Bevin faces union-backed Democratic State Attorney General Jack Conway] and Pennsylvania [where three state Supreme Court seats are on the statewide ballot]. So we’re not looking beyond 2015.”
Trumka’s cautious approach was in sharp contrast to the bold targeting he and the AFL-CIO did nearly two years ago to the day at the same Monitor-sponsored breakfast.
It was then — Aug. 30, 2013 — that he announced the targeting of Walker, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in 2014 and promised: “We have the capability to play in 50 states.”
When asked about Kasich, who was re-elected resoundingly in 2014 and is now seeking the presidency in 2016, the labor leader told the Monitor’s Linda Feldmann just how he felt about the Republican hopeful who is, like Trumka, the son of Pennsylvania blue-collar workers.
“He forgot where he came from,” replied Trumka. “When he was in Congress, he passed more laws to hurt workers than anything.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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