The leader of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, tweeted her disbelief that AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka may be considering an endorsement of President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. On Wednesday, Trumka told Newsmax that he could not rule out an endorsement by the powerful union. “Every [candidate] will be looked at,” Trumka said. He added, “we will consider every candidate who’s running.” The endorsement process by the AFL-CIO has yet to begin for an election that is more than two years out.

Weingarten wrote on Twitter: “THIS MUST BE A TYPO.. Richard Trumka please clarify.... this can’t possibly be what you said.”  

Trumka told Newsmax that Trump fared better among AFL-CIO members than Mitt Romney did in 2012. He added that Hillary Clinton did worse than then-President Barack Obama in 2012. When  Trumka was asked why labor union members pulled the lever for Trump, he said, “They were looking for someone who was going to change the economy. They felt there were assaults on their health care and assaults on their pensions.” Trumka said Trump’s promises for the working class have been “broken or unfulfilled,” even while praising the president on trade.

Weingarten tweeted, “In my conversations with union members and workers all over the United States, it’s clear they oppose the damage Trump is doing. Yes we want him to help steel workers, but his tax giveaways to the rich, attacks on ACA, his divisiveness, his attacks on democracy and his caging of children are disqualifying.” 

Trumka and the AFL-CIO endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race. In March 2016, Trumka said in a speech that he was not a true friend of workers, and called Trump a “bigot” who was “running on hate.” In January 2018, Trumka said that Trump was hurting working people and warned “if he continues down his current path, workers will be looking for a new president in 2020.” Trumka also criticized Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, who voted against mandatory union fees for state government workers. He also expressed opposition to Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court.

After saying that numerous labor union members voted for Trump in 2016, veteran Newsmax reporter John Gizzi asked Trumka if it is beyond the realm of reality that the AFL-CIO leader could endorse Trump in 2020. Trumka replied: "I never said that, and I never said that we wouldn't endorse him." Trumka told Gizzi and the panel at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast briefing tht he did not want to see stories that he would endorse Trump. Gizzi later led with an article titled: "AFL-CIO's Trumka Won't Rule Out Unions Endorsing Trump in 2020." According to Fox News, a spokesperson for Trumka said on Thursday that Newsmax's headline was "click-bait" that did not adequately reference the context of Trumka's remarks. 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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