From NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli
Hillary Clinton's campaign in Ohio is reacting strongly to a mailer from the Obama campaign that hits her on NAFTA. One of her key labor supporters said the piece almost amounts to "mail fraud," and claimed that other unions now siding with Obama -- as the SEIU is today -- are doing so only out of "sheer opportunism."
"The Obama campaign until very, very recently had no union support because they didn't believe that their constituency ... should include blue-collar workers," Rick Sloan, a representative of the Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, said on a conference call today. "Unions that are joining them are doing it out of sheer opportunism... What they don't understand is that this race is not over. It has just begun."
The Obama mailer, which shows a closed sign hanging on a gate outside a factor, claims that Clinton once felt NAFTA would be a "boon" to the economy. It sites a 2006 Newsday questionnaire for Clinton's 2006 Senate race that stated as such. Newsday's blog yesterday corrected the record, saying that was its characterization of "how we best understood her position."
Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher said it was disappointing that Obama chose to introduce himself to state voters in such a way. Sloan said the mailer "really reached over the bounds," and was just short of "mail fraud." "[Clinton is] on record having said that NAFTA has not lived up to its billing and needs to be fixed," Fisher said.
Sloan fought back by accusing Obama of "shadowboxing" when it comes to fighting for workers. "What we've seen from him in Illinois at least is that he walks away from the fight," Sloan said. "His brochure talks about he will fix our trade deals ... and we can believe him. Well, I think if you can believe Roger Clemens, you can believe on Barack Obama."
Sloan claimed that Obama "has not lifted a finger to help people in his own state," specifically citing the closure of a Maytag plant in Galesburg in 2004, when Obama was a candidate for Senate. Sloan said one of Obama's contributors, Lester Crown, whose family had a 58% interest in Maytag, and made $150 million when the firm was bought out. "[Obama] could have picked up the phone," Sloan said, but he didn't because he "was in the tank to this Chicago billionaire." "You don't fight for workers by walking away."