The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees [Slogan: “We Make America Happen”] hosted their second cattle call for Democratic presidential candidates Tuesday morning.
At an earlier union candidate forum this year, I walked away concluding that Edwards had the personal connection with the working-class crowd, Hillary had an unrivaled command of the details of this groups’ issues (and wowed the crowd with them) and that Obama was underwhelming, offering more or less a variation of his stump speech.
Today, Obama was the one who blew the doors off the Marriott Wardman Park ballroom.
“I have been traveling all across the country amazing to see enthusiasm and energy. We had 20,000 people show up in Atlanta 20,000 people show up in Austin, 12,000 people show up in Oakland, California… Black folks and white, and Asian-Americans, and Latinos, and gay and straight… and I’d like to say that it’s about my campaign, but it’s not. When you look at the people coming out what they are looking for is a new kind of politics not timid, not small, not divisive, not simply based on trying to get power, but based on how do we build the America we all dream of… I know where we need to go. I know we can create health care policy that works for all people.”
At one point, moderator Chris Matthews declared, “this is Bobby Kennedy stuff. You’re sounding like the Sixties at its absolute best.”
Obama did throw in a bit more union-centric segments to his comments, defending card check, and the need to help union organizing. But most of it just seemed to be a bit more pep and verve, and – perhaps he was reading NRO this morning – an argument that he can simultaneously win over independents while standing up for liberal ideals.
“We’re going to have to win some independents,” Obama said. “We’ve got some disaffected Republicans. George Bush has been a great advertisement for the Democratic Party… We have to reach out to some folks who may not seem like natural allies to us, but who are looking for something new… If we got 40, 45 miles per gallon, wouldn’t need to import any oil from the Middle East, and that wouldn’t just be good for our economy, it would be good for our security and good for the environment, and that’s not a Republican or Democrat issue, that’s an American issue… If people disagree, and we can’t persuade ‘em, then we just have to beat ‘em, and that’s what we’re gonna do in this election.”