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The Monitor Breakfast

AFL-CIO chief's message to Obama: 'jobs, jobs, and more jobs'

The head of the largest trade union federation says President Obama will have to hammer home a message of 'jobs, jobs, and more jobs' to keep the support of white working-class men this election.  

By Staff writer / August 14, 2012

In this photo taken last year, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is shown at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor/File

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Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest trade-union federation, says President Obama should hammer home the message "jobs, jobs, and more jobs" in order to win over white working-class men, a group that he got strong support from in 2008. He also says the US Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which removed restrictions on corporate and union spending in political campaigns, has been "corrosive" on the US political system, but unions will use it to their benefit. Mr. Trumka was the guest at a Monitor breakfast on Aug. 9.

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How President Obama can win over white working-class men:

"Keep talking about jobs, jobs, and more jobs.... This is the union difference in the last election: Obama lost white men in the last election by 16 points. But he won white union men by 18 points.... He lost white women by 7 percent, but he won white union women by 47 percent."

AFL-CIO's budget for the 2012 election:

"We'll have ample resources this time around.... If you want a figure, I'm not going to give it to you, because that will be the story.... We'll have over 400,000 activists trying to get votes, knocking on doors...."

Impact of Citizens United ruling, which allows unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and unions:

"We opposed Citizens United; we think it's corrosive to the system. But since it's there, we'll use it.

The Keystone XL pipeline, which Mr. Obama rejected despite labor support:

"A lot of people try to say it's either-or: Either you do the project or you destroy the environment. I think there's a way to do things both ways."

The role of race in the election:

"I'd be foolish to say it's still not an issue, because it is. But it's less [so] this time, because we've had four years. The sky didn't fall. Everybody didn't grow tails and a pitchfork."

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