Obama Wins Endorsement of Union He Once Slammed

By Jaketapper

Feb 14, 2008 9:22pm

Before the Iowa Caucuses, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, repeatedly disparaged the independent 527 groups backing former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, and running ads on Edwards’ behalf — the most prominent of which was largely funded by state chapters of the Service Employees International Union, which tonight announced it is backing Obama.

"You’ve got these outside groups that are helping out candidates and it’s a way of getting around the campaign finance laws," Obama griped in Oskaloosa, Iowa, right after the SEIU-backed 527 plunked down $750,000 in TV ads for Edwards.

“Right now groups supporting Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are flooding Iowa and the other early states with millions of dollars in paid ads, phone calls, and mailings," Obama wrote in a memo,  referring to the SEIU and also to groups backing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, such as the union AFSCME and EMILY’s List.

He went after the groups directly, saying a lot of the 527 activities are "paid for by huge, unregulated contributions from special interests," he said. "Taking on these groups isn’t just a matter of setting the record straight about me or my positions. It’s about proving that a new kind of campaign – funded by ordinary people who want something better for all of us – can defeat the same tired, old political textbook that so many Americans just don’t trust anymore."

"Special interests" …..hmmmmmm.

In a power-point presentation, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called 527s, including (if not especially) the one backed by the SEIU, "shadowy, Washington-based organizations."

Around that time, the New York Times’ insightful Matt Bai noted "while Mr. Obama is aiming squarely at Mr. Edwards, he also risks alienating some of the most powerful interest groups in Democratic Washington….In complaining generally about unregulated money in Iowa, Obama’s campaign has invoked the term ‘special interests.’ This is, of course, how Republicans like to describe unions, so for a Democrat to use that term in reference to nurses and teachers" is seen by some "as an act of betrayal."

Bai went on to "wonder if making this argument, right or wrong, could haunt him later…As one labor activist pointedly told me, Democrats running for president aren’t supposed to go after their friends."

But all is apparently forgiven!

- jpt

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