Obama Courts Union Workers

Apr 30, 2012 5:24pm

President Obama rallied union workers today, admitting in a campaign-style speech that he hasn’t always been a “perfect president” but saying he has always kept his promise to work on their behalf.

In fiery remarks to the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department the president said he has been pushing for new infrastructure projects but that Republicans in Congress keep rejecting them.

“Over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills to put people to work, to put your members back to work… And time after time the Republicans have gotten together, and they’ve said no,” the president said to boos from the rowdy crowd.

Obama went on to accuse Republicans in Congress of playing politics with funding for infrastructure projects. “Congress needs to do the right thing… It shouldn’t be that hard.  Not everything should be subject to thinking about the next election instead of thinking about the next generation,” he said.

The president himself, however, touched on several of his campaign themes during the speech, including ending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

Instead of investing in infrastructure, the president said Republicans prefer to give tax cuts to the rich. “Now, what do you think will make the economy stronger?  Giving another tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country?” Obama asked. “No!” the energetic crowd cheered in response. “Or rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our broadband networks that will help our businesses sell goods all around the world?  It’s pretty clear.  This choice is not a hard one,” the president said.

While Obama’s relationship with the unions has been rocky at times over the last three years, he has been courting the key constituency heading into the election.

“I made a promise I’d always tell you where I stood; I’d always tell you what I thought, what I believed in; and most importantly, I would wake up every single day working as hard as I know how to make your lives a little bit better.  And for all that we’ve gone through over the last three and a half, four years, I have kept that promise,” he said.

“I’m still thinking about you, and I still believe in you.  And if you join me, we’ll remind the world just why it is that America’s the greatest nation on earth,” the president said as he concluded his speech to a standing ovation and chants of “four more years.”

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