AFL-CIO Begins Final Push for Clinton

AFL-CIO Begins Final Push for Clinton
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Organized labor launched the final phase of its political battle plan to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, announcing Thursday a new video from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and a door-to-door blitz aimed at getting union members in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Nevada to the polls to vote for the Democratic nominee.

“Her greatest perceived weakness, being an insider, is actually one of her most potent strengths,” Trumka said while looking into the camera during his Clinton endorsement. He praised the former secretary of state’s reversal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, her proposal to invest in building roads, bridges and ports, and her backing for union rights.

“My family spent three generations in the coal mines of Pennsylvania,” Trumka said.  “I understand those who are skeptical about our institutions of power,” he added without mentioning Donald Trump’s name but describing him as “dangerous and divisive.” “We need a president who will empower us to reach our full potential. I believe with every fiber of my being that Hillary Clinton is the woman for the job.”

Democratic candidates consider on-the-ground help from Big Labor important, as early voting takes place in many states and final results could turn on a small number of votes. In the RealClearPolitics polling averages as of Thursday, Clinton was ahead of Trump by five percentage points in Pennsylvania, and leading slightly in neck-and-neck battles in Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada. In Ohio, she trailed the New York businessman by about a percentage point.

At an event Thursday in North Carolina, Clinton echoed the get-out-the-vote economic arguments Trumka and other surrogates are making to working-class Americans just days before the presidential competition will end.

“Good jobs that pay good wages are at stake,” Clinton said during a Winston-Salem rally accompanied by Michelle Obama. By “investing in our roads and our bridges and our water systems and all the work that needs to be done in our country … we can put millions of people to work and have a more competitive economy,” she explained.

“That's why we proposed a very big jobs program, because I don't want anybody willing to work in this country not to have a good job with a rising income to support themselves and their families,” Clinton continued. “If you believe that, then you've got to come out and vote.”

By Nov. 8, the AFL expects half a million fliers touting Clinton as “the clear choice for working families” and 1.4 million cards listing AFL-favored candidates to reach union households in key swing states. The messages will accompany hundreds of one-on-one discussions with union members in person and via phone, plus digital advertising placed on news media websites and shared through social media.

Labor’s grassroots endgame caps weeks of volunteer door-to-door intelligence gathering -- canvassing that refined the AFL’s data files by revealing which retired and active union members support Clinton (or might be persuaded to), and which members planned to buck union leadership to vote for Trump.

RealClearPolitics recently tagged along with AFL volunteers to describe the Trump and Clinton supporters they encountered during a Saturday morning door-knocking session in one of Philadelphia’s middle-class suburbs.

The AFL, which has 12.5 million members, said it would spend six figures to place digital ads in 10 media markets in four states, although it did not detail the exact investment (digital ads are far less expensive than television ads, and reach smaller audiences). The ads will appear on news media websites in Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

In Philadelphia, where Clinton and her allies have worked for months to gin up enthusiasm among black voters, the AFL is sponsoring radio ads on African-American radio stations to encourage turnout on Election Day (Pennsylvania has no early voting and restricts absentee balloting, making turnout on Nov. 8 essential to the victorious candidates).

In the final 12 days, top AFL officials are expected to deliver their pro-Clinton messages during union events in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Missouri before Nov. 8.

AFL leaders voted in mid-June to endorse Clinton, waiting until Democratic primary contests against Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont ended before giving Clinton the nod. In this cycle, the AFL and its affiliates have spent $11.5 million on political operations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com.  Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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