ABC News’ Raelyn Johnson reports: Democratic presidential contender John Edwards has picked up his fourth major union endorsement in Sen. Hillary Clinton’s back yard today, as the Transportation Workers Union of America officially through their support behind him this afternoon in NYC.
"With this endorsement which goes along with endorsement of the Carpenter, the Steelworkers the Mine Workers, we now have well over 2 million union members and workers in this country who are supporting my campaign. I think it’s a sign of a significant amount of momentum building in the campaign, you can feel the movement happening."
Edwards was joined today by TWU International President James C Little as well as Local 100 President Roger Toussaint, both on hand to represent the union’s 200,000 members. After a fiery welcome, Little introduced Edwards as "the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." Speaking to a tightly filled room in TWU headquarters, Edwards asserted, "As president of the Unities States I’m committed to going on the White House lawn and talking to America about how important organized labor has been in building the great middle class."
Having garnered four major endorsements in the last week, Edwards explained why he believed these unions have chosen to support him over the other candidates. "This is not something that I do just to gain political support. I think it’s actually essential to the long term economic security of America. And it think what happens is the union leadership sees in me somebody who doesn’t just talk and doesn’t disappears when they’re running for office but somebody who stands with them when their in the trenches when they’re in a fight."
Reporters in attendance were met with literature entitled, "The Case for John Edwards—why TWU supports John Edwards and not Hillary Clinton or Other Democrats on Hand." Following the endorsement, Little spoke to the electability argument saying Edwards was "the strongest candidate against any of the Republican candidates, including Giuliani."
When asked if he felt Clinton and Obama shared Edwards’ belief that growing unions are essential reviving the middle class Little added, "I think when you look at the overall, I think John and his commitment to the working people is a lot stronger then theirs. Obviously we’re not the only ones who recognize it."
Building and strengthening the middle class has been the central theme of Edwards campaign. Today he made it clear that part of growing the middle class through unions means improving trade policies, taking healthcare coverage off the table during collective bargaining. It was a promise that was met by cheers from the members on hand.
Egged on, Edwards said "My own belief, is the reason we don’t have universal healthcare today is insurance companies, drug companies and their lobbyists." And with a reoccurring punch to the hometown Senator he added, "We need a president that is not for the status quo. We need a president that believes we have to change the way we do these things."
The members of the TWU are the blood that flows through the veins of New York’s transportation system, keeping the subways, buses and trains moving. That system flat lined in the winter of 2005 when they notoriously went on strike, shutting New York City down smack in the middle of the holiday season. A federal judge later ruled the strike illegal.
In anticipation of the official endorsement, Edwards said he was proud to stand with the people who help make New Yorkers safe. "The men and women of the TWU serve on the front lines of our country’s homeland security protecting public transportation users, the nation’s railways, and skies."
It was a timely comment from Edwards, as he is set to deliver a major policy speech on counterterrorism on Friday, here in New York.