August 4th, 2010
12:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama rallies unions, rips GOP

 President Obama ripped GOP principles Wednesday in a speech in front of AFL-CIO leaders.
President Obama ripped GOP principles Wednesday in a speech in front of AFL-CIO leaders.

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama sought to rally the Democratic Party's union base Wednesday, telling a meeting of AFL-CIO leaders that the looming midterm elections offer a clear choice between moving forward with a stronger economy and moving backward with a failed GOP philosophy.

He ripped former President George W. Bush's administration for fostering "a profound animosity toward the notion of unions" and creating an unstable economy that only advanced the interests of "a privileged few."

The president's remarks were delivered against a backdrop of rising Democratic fears over the November elections due largely to what many analysts view as a tepid economic recovery.

"We're on the right track," Obama declared in his speech at the Washington Convention Center. But it "took us nearly a decade to dig ourselves into the hole that we're in" and a full recovery will take time.

Obama told the union leaders that they have to remind their members over for the next three months that the Republicans "drove America's economy into a ditch. And for the last 20 months ... we've been shoving that car out of the ditch and they've been standing" aside without "lifting a finger to help."

Now we've finally got the car "on the blacktop and they say they want the keys back. Well you can't have the keys because you don't know how to drive."

The president joked that "when you're in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in 'D.'" If you want to go backward, "you put it in 'R.'"

Among other things, Obama took credit for passing health care and Wall Street reform over a solid wall of GOP opposition. He also pledged to keep pushing for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act - a bill designed to make it easier for workers to unionize.

Republicans leaders have called the measure undemocratic because it discourages secret ballot elections.

– CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report


Filed under: AFL-CIO • President Obama
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Rick CT

    He just continues to divide in a way no President is history has ever done. I guess that's the change we can believe in.

    August 4, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Margaret Anderson/Boise, Idaho

    The worst thing to happen to workers is when the Republicans pushed through the Right to Work Law. Wages have been stagnating for the average worker since. Somehow the executives didn't have to live under this stagnating wage thing like the average American worker. Rich folks are special, now they want us to vote for keeping tax breaks for the wealthy permanent. Unbelievable. Be careful, Republicans will try to sell you swampland next (probably coated in oil and dead animals).

    August 4, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. 8 Years of "Trickle Down" Economics has only left a wet spot on working America's shoes!

    "creating an unstable economy that only advanced the interests of "a privileged few."

    Yes, like apologizing to BP, watering down Wall Street reform, voting 3 times to prevent extending unemployment to the unemployed during one of the worst periods for the unemployed, and wanting to add 3.5 trillion to the deficit by keeping the shrub's tax cuts in place.

    Other than that, those neo-cons are all about the average citizen.

    August 4, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. JES

    I guess the unions would be happy since you want to spend 25 billion dollars to save union workers jobs.

    August 4, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. U.S. Common Sense

    Labor unions account for a tiny percentage of the workforce, but Democrats are heavy into their pockets. Why does such a small percentage of the population get treated as if they were the majority?

    August 4, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. 8 Years of having a drunken driver at the wheel put America in the ditch, why would working Americans return the keys to the crowd drinking at the same bar?

    "drove America's economy into a ditch. And for the last 20 months ... we've been shoving that car out of the ditch and they've been standing" aside without "lifting a finger to help."

    "got the car "on the blacktop and they say they want the keys back. Well you can't have the keys because you don't know how to drive."

    ""when you're in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in 'D.'" If you want to go backward, "you put it in 'R.'"

    Bravo, President O!

    I couldn't have said it better myself!

    August 4, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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