Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump lashed out at the AFL-CIO for endorsing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton Thursday, saying the nation’s largest labor federation “no longer represents American workers.”
“Sadly, with this endorsement of Hillary Clinton — who is totally owned by Wall Street — the leadership of the AFL-CIO has made clear that it no longer represents American workers. Instead they have become part of the rigged system in Washington, D.C., that benefits only the insiders,” Trump said in a statement. “I believe their members will be voting for me in much larger numbers than for her.”
The group’s general board voted to endorse Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a move that was expected after she was declared the presumptive Democratic nominee last week. Clinton won endorsements from many of the AFL-CIO’s largest member unions in the past year, including the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Sanders received far fewer endorsements, but he had support from vocal rank-and-file members who were more excited by his candidacy. The support for Sanders among union members was part of the reason behind the AFL-CIO’s decision to put off its endorsement until after the primaries officially ended.
While labor unions typically endorse Democratic candidates, Trump has also seen some support from rank-and-file members who like his tough talk on issues like trade and immigration. Particularly on the issue of trade deals, Trump’s positions are often similar to those espoused by Sanders, and there have been reports of some voters deciding between the two anti-establishment candidates.
Unions apparently took this threat seriously, as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the Washington Post in March his group was preparing to attack Trump and educate union members about what he called the Republican’s history of anti-union policies.
In his statement Thursday, Trump relied heavily on the idea that some Sanders supporters might agree with him, or at least are not fully aboard team Clinton. He criticized the former secretary of state on her support of trade deals and on her ties to Wall Street, two areas that Sanders frequently attacked during the Democratic primary.
“Hillary Clinton and her husband have made hundreds of millions of dollars doing favors and selling access to Wall Street, special interests and oppressive foreign regimes,” Trump’s email said. He then quoted Sanders, saying: “As Bernie Sanders said, ‘Why, over her political career, has Wall Street been the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton?’ They own Hillary Clinton and she will do whatever they tell her to.”
Trump said Sanders was “100 percent correct” when he said trade agreements had cost Americans millions of jobs. The Trump message also called out Clinton for taking large speaking fees, for her stance on immigration and for her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and coal, which Trump said would “destroy millions of good union jobs through executive action.”
“Hillary Clinton will economically destroy poor communities, African-American and Hispanic workers on trade, immigration, crime, energy, taxes, regulation and everything else,” Trump said in the message.
He concluded by pointing to what he said were contradictions between the Clinton Foundation’s dealings with other countries and Clinton’s views as a candidate, and then co-opted Clinton’s own position of inclusion by promising to “be a president for all Americans.”
“Finally, union workers have long believed in having an open and free society. Yet Hillary takes money from regimes that support the murder of gays and the enslavement of women while pushing to bring people into America who want to do the exact same thing to our people. I only want to bring people into our country who will love and support everyone,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton is the enemy of working people and is the best friend Wall Street ever had. I will fight harder for American workers than anyone ever has, and I will fight for their right to elect leaders who will do the same. I will be a president for all Americans.”