Democratic Vice President Joe Biden reportedly told a top union leader during a Friday phone call he is strongly considering a run for president.
Biden spoke with International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger. CNN first broke news of the private phone conversation Saturday. At the moment, Biden has yet to announce whether he will run.
The two discussed a range of topics including a possible campaign strategy, infrastructure and fundraising. According to a source for NBC News, Schaitberger was left with the impression Biden is likely going to run and believes he can raise the funds necessary for a campaign.
Union members and leaders are already showing support for a possible Biden run. While speaking at the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, Biden was urged by a crowd of union members to finally announce his bid for the presidency. He was joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard. Schaitberger suggested Oct. 15 to New York Magazine that if Biden ran, he would have the union’s support.
Biden offers the labor movement an important opportunity. Unions are struggling to find a candidate to endorse this election season. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and unions are at odds over her hesitance to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. After months of pressure from unions, Clinton came out against it.
Clinton argues she was waiting for President Barack Obama and the 11 other pacific nations involved in the TPP talks to come up with a finalized version before she took a stance on it. Unions have also been hesitant to back Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. [crscore]Bernard Sanders[/crscore], fearing he is not electable.
The AFL-CIO, Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have all decided to hold off their endorsements.
If Biden does indeed join the race, it will have significant repercussions for Clinton. Unions have a considerable amount of political influence. They are big political contributors and are able to quickly mobilize and rally people.
Though most major unions are stalling backing anyone, many locals have already thrown in their support for Bernie. Labor for Bernie says the Vermont socialist is the best candidate for working Americans. The group has held rallies across the country and signed on a few national unions and many smaller locals.
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