WASHINGTON (CNN) - Crossing paths with rival Barack Obama at a union event Tuesday morning, Hillary Clinton compared herself to the come-from-behind NCAA champion Kansas Jayhawks.
“A few of you were up late watching that game last night,” she told a gathering of the Communications Workers of America in Washington, D.C. “Great comeback, right? My kind of outcome.”
The Jayhawks tied the Memphis Tigers with just 2.1 seconds left to go in regulation before scoring an overtime victory Monday night.
She said that the union members knew what it was like to go up against big odds: “You know what it’s like to be told to go away, to quit. I know a little something about that too,” she said, to cheers from the crowd.
Both Democratic candidates, who got a warm reception from the labor corwd, were addressing a union audience Tuesday for the first time since Clinton’s chief strategist, Mark Penn, resigned amid controversy, after helping Colombian leaders push for a free trade agreement she opposed.
The New York senator focused most of her fire on John McCain as she looked to reassure them that she opposes a potential free trade pact with Colombia.
There can be "no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues," she said, adding that she would continue to push Congress to reject the deal.
Taking the stage after Clinton, Barack Obama - whose economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, grabbed headlines for allegedly assuring Canadian officials he was not as opposed to NAFTA as his campaign trail rhetoric suggested - also vowed to fight the deal, and pointed to a host of other trade agreements he had publicly criticized.
“What I refuse to accept is that we have to sign trade deals that put the interests of multinational corporations ahead of the interests of American workers. I refuse to accept that we should sign trade deals that lack enforceable labor and environmental standards,” said Obama.
The 700,000 member strong CWA is the largest remaining unclaimed labor prize, along with the United Auto Workers. The union decided last fall that it would not back a candidate during the Democratic primary process, although it freed its member unions to make their own endorsements.