Obama Labor Backer Open to VP Vetting

By Greg Wallace

Jun 16, 2008 9:52pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis, Tahman Bradley, Gregory Wallace, and Alexa Ainsworth Report: One of the unwritten rules of politics is that if you want to be vice
president, you don’t lobby for the job. But one of Barack Obama’s most
prominent labor backers has put herself in the running.

A Friday e-mail entitled, "New possibilities for Obama’s VP," touted Anna Burger, the chair of the powerful "Change to Win" federation, to be the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee. What was unusual about the missive to reporters is that it originated from a press secretary working at one of Burger’s own unions.

"Thought you would be interested in this from David Sirota’s column today on possible VP picks for Barack Obama," wrote Mark McCullough of the Service Employees International Union.

McCullough then bolded this line from Sirota’s column: "[O]utside the electoral arena there are people like Anna Burger — a leader of one of the largest labor unions, who was recently hailed by the Wall Street Journal as one of the 50 most influential women in America." The focus of the column by Sirota, who recently wrote "The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington," was finding an "anti-Clinton," populist candidate for vice president.

When ABC News contacted S.E.I.U. to find out if Burger was prepared to be vetted for the vice presidency, Burger spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller said, "certainly."

She quickly added, however, that while Burger is flattered to have been mentioned by Sirota, she does not expect the Obama campaign to vet her for the job.

"More than anything else," said Mueller, "that Burger’s name was mentioned in a column about Obama’s running mate is a reflection of the unprecedented involvement of workers in this election and of the incredible impact that the election will have on the lives of working people in this country."

"She is going to work as hard as she possibly can to make sure that he is the next president," said Mueller, referring to the work that "Change to Win" and its member unions are already doing on behalf of Obama.

Asked why SEIU was taking the unusual step of promoting the head of its labor federation for the job, Mueller explained that Burger did not want the press to overlook a handful of populist candidates that Sirota touted in his column. In addition to Burger, the Sirota excerpt emailed to reporters by SEIU also touted Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

"I think there have been a number of really good suggestions made, and we wanted to make sure that all the people who have been put out there are in the mix," said Mueller. "Use the information as you will."

While noting that Burger originally hails from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Mueller acknowledged Burger’s dark-horse status.

"She’s not waiting for a phone call," said Mueller.

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