The country’s largest labor union won’t endorse any Democrat who has the same economic team as President Obama and won’t be getting behind Hillary Rodham Clinton early in the 2016 presidential race, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday.
“If you get the same economic team, you’re going to get the same results. The same results aren’t good enough for working people,” he said.
“For most folks, it seems to be an economy of stagnation,” Mr. Trumka said at a breakfast with reporters hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
As for the 2016 race to replace Mr. Obama, Mr. Trumka said the union would withhold an endorsement until the field fills out and union leaders collectively vet all the candidates, thereby avoiding a repeat of 2008, when several unions split endorsements between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.
“We will call in and question all of the candidates,” he said. “One of our biggest concerns is who is the candidate’s economic team, because if the present economic team doesn’t change, you are going get the same results.”
“Hillary did an excellent job as secretary of state. I think she is very, very qualified to be president,” he said. “Would I say that she is the favorite now? Yes. But I think any time anybody believes there is going to be a coronation, that’s dangerous to the candidate.”
He said the promise of a coronation could make a candidate complacent.
“That’s not good for the candidate, because the candidate needs to be developing the grass-roots system and support across the country, and the deeper you go, the better off that candidate is,” Mr. Trumka said. “And I think, quite frankly, that is precisely what [Mrs. Clinton] is going to do.”
Mr. Trumka named other potential Democratic contenders for the White House, including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has been aggressively laying the groundwork for a 2016 run.
He said Mr. Obama also had come up short on championing pro-union policies.
“I think he’s trying,” Mr. Trumka said. “Is it enough? We’d like to see more.”