Longtime Democratic strategist Pat Caddell on Wednesday blasted the Obama White House for creating “a world in which there is no dissent,” following his banishment from Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff’s campaign for Senate.
Caddell, in a phone interview with The Daily Caller, doubled down on the comments he made in November that he said public sector employee unions in Colorado used as leverage to get him tossed from the Romanoff campaign.
“What I said about Andy Stern and the SEIU? Sure, they’re thugs,” said Caddell, a former adviser to President Jimmy Carter, who until Monday* had an informal advising role with the primary challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Caddell said he does not fault Romanoff, a former state House speaker, for cutting ties with him after his remarks from November — in which he called the Service Employee Union International (SEIU) “thugs” and said the goal of the environmental movement is to “deconstruct capitalism” — were made public.
But Caddell said the comments were pushed into the public spotlight by the state chapters of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO, who called on the Romanoff campaign to get rid of him or risk losing any chance of getting labor’s endorsement.
“The unions have been considering endorsing Romanoff, and basically they told him that if I was involved with the campaign, ‘sayonara,’ which I think is the definition of thuggery isn’t it?” said Caddell, who has worked for a who’s who of Democratic politicians over the last few decades, including Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Mario Cuomo and Gary Hart.
Mike Cerbo, the executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, said he called Romanoff after hearing of Caddell’s comments but denied applying pressure on the candidate to get rid of his adviser.
“There was no gauntlet thrown down,” Cerbo said. “I called Andrew just to express my displeasure. That was it. There were no threats or demands.”
The AFL-CIO has not yet endorsed a candidate in the Colorado primary, which is Aug. 10.
“We’ve got our political convention coming up in the late spring. And we’re moving forward with our process,” Cerbo said.
Romanoff spokesman Dean Toda said the candidate is still seeking the unions’ endorsements.
“They’re fine reputable unions. I’m sure Andrew would love to have their support,” Toda said.
The SEIU has not responded to requests for comment. Neither has the Bennet campaign.
Caddell’s larger point is that Obama has allowed the Democratic party to be run by special interests such as the SEIU, and that the White House itself has reinforced the idea that no disagreement with their policies or ideas can be expressed.
“What they have created is a world in which there is no dissent. Don’t look at me. Look at [Sen.] Evan Bayh. People, with some justification, may think that I’m crazy. But he is the center of the establishment if there was ever was someone,” Caddell said. “When there’s no room in the Democratic party for him and there’s no room in the Democratic party for me, and the unions do get to make those kinds of calls in defense of the indefensible, because, ‘We own you,’ well, the Democratic party will be finished.”
The White House has not responded to request for comment.
Caddell said he is being ostracized for sounding alarms about the problem that public sector unions are posing for the Democratic party. He said he supports industrial unions but that government employee unions such as the SEIU — which is one of the Democratic party’s biggest campaign contributors — violate the raison d’etre of the party, which is to “stand up for ordinary average Americans, not money and special interests.”
“I think the public unions are going to take the country and the Democratic party down the tubes,” Caddell said. “They’re in the business of taking care of — of asking taxpayers, asking ordinary people, to pay for people who make twice as much as they make, with benefit packages they will never see, and they’re told, you may not cut those.”
He pointed to health-care negotiations, where the SEIU has preserved health-care benefits from cuts, and to the $787 billion stimulus, which has benefited mostly state government employees so far. He said public sector employee unions in California have contributed to the state’s fiscal crisis by demanding that taxpayers subsidize their job status and guaranteed salaries and benefits.
Caddell said he was not attacking government employees but that the system “has grown into something far beyond what it should be.”
“How are you going to tell a person who makes $40,000 that they must pay money to make sure that people keep jobs who make $80,000, roughly, and who have defined pensions that they will never see?” Caddell said. “You cannot ask ordinary Americans who have no jobs, whose pensions have been ransacked, and whose pay has been stagnant, to keep rewarding people who don’t face the same kind of conditions and risk.”
“The people who pay for it are suffering,” he said. “The taxpayers are going to explode. This is the big coming issue of our time.”
Here is video of Caddell’s comments in November (in two parts), at a meeting of political conservatives:
*The Romanoff campaign informed the Daily Caller that while they first learned of Caddell’s comments when they viewed the video on the ColoradoPols.com blog, their candidate first viewed the clip on Monday afternoon, and that is when they informed him they would no longer be working with him.