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

Obama rallies unions, rips GOP

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption =" 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. Shucks

    All democrats have to do to keep moving forward is to show up at the polls and vote. Period. I can't wait to see the long lines again. We are still here, and we are watching and listening. We are not as vocal as the right, and never will be. We don't beleive in making alot of noise. We will achieve our goals by taking action, not reaction.

    August 4, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |

    something, something, something..................blame Bush

    i can wait until people start to blame him for this health care flop.....

    oh wait............he can still blame bush after he is out of office

    angry black guy..........or half angry black guy

    everytime he points his finger at bush, or her, or those guys, or the media, or whoever it just makes him look like a coward.

    y america, y this guy.i just dont get it

    August 4, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  3. diridi

    GOP and Republican thugs messed this nation like a :HELL". What is there to talk...Just pass energy and climate reform and stringent immigration who hire illegals, and non-citizens, and bring manufacturing to America...

    August 4, 2010 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. Four and The Door

    The Democrats as predicted will go with their last resort strategy and try to run against George W. Bush again.

    So after 2 years and trillions of tax dollars you don't have anything to show for it? That's pathetic. I hope they try and come up with something better. Really. They are trying to re-live 2008.

    August 4, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Stacey

    GObP = American National Tea Party = Party of NO. Americans just say NO to the party of NO in NOvember!

    August 4, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Justin

    "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.'"

    Nice one. I like that.

    August 4, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Malt

    Obama is great at being divisive (demonizes). He can stupidly rip on the GOP all he wants, but he has control of Congress and can pass anything he wants. He's just ripping the republicans because his policies have turned a majority of the US citizens against the democrats that supported his idiocy.

    Also, unions were useful–100 years ago. Now they are not only outdated, but counter-productive (economy killers). SEIU has turned into thuggish 'astroturf' and needs to disband. Also, government employees should not be allowed to be in a union. They work for US.

    August 4, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    "Moving forward with a stronger economy?" He's kidding, right?

    Businesses in this country are so scared of what the far Left is going to tax next, and by how much, or what kinds of insanely expensive requirements they're going to impose, that they're simply not risking their cash on growth, capital investment, and hiring. And without growth, capital investment, and hiring, there's no way for the economy to get stronger.

    Now, I agree that "moving backward with a failed GOP philosophy" would be pretty brain-dead too–except that I think the GOP has (re)learned their lesson about fiscal restraint.

    George Bush is gone and unlamented, but Obama and the Lefties seem to think that they're still running against him.

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. jim

    The union leaders have sold out their members by favoring illegal immigrants over hard working Americans.SEIU bussing in people to protest Arizona laws against illegals was shameful !!!

    August 4, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Chris (Sacramento CA)

    Obama is a joke. we have lost over 3 million jobs since he took office and unemployment is at 9.5% when his administration promised it would not go above 8%. Our national debt has tripled under Obama and private business are not hiring because of the great one policy's. I cant wait for this November and 2012.

    August 4, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Fair is Fair

    I suppose if you cant run on your record, you have to blame Bush.

    Heck of a job, Obama.

    August 4, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Tom

    It took eight years to scrap the Clinton surplus, and put us into a financial deficit. A deficite that did not even account for the debts from the War, the "Rich Man tax cuts, and the Government Bailout of the Banks and Wall Street. How that last one keeps getting pinned on Obama is beyond me. Now, after eighteen months on the sidelines, the Republicans want control back.

    I agree with the President – You can't have the keys back. Not until you've seen how someone else drives. Get off your ass and help push the cart out of the ditch; instead of sitting there complaining about how management doesn't know what they're doing.

    August 4, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Rips GOP....!

    No not Obama rips...he always "RIDICULES" and then he talks lets have bi-partisan solution....meaning my way or the hi-way...............!

    August 4, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. gt

    why dont obama give it a rest ,,, bush has been gone 2 yrs,,,step up and act like a leader not a whiney little girl... ugh

    August 4, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. SayWhat

    Mr President, Many of our dunions have now become part of the problem. Why else have most of our manufacturing jobs been driven overseas?

    August 4, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. Paul from Phoenix

    I always find it funny that the Dems rip big business for campaign finance, yet they refuse to acknowledge that Unions ARE businesses, and they contribute millions to campaigns yearly. But I guess that thought never crossed libs minds...or it did, but they don't want to hurt themselves.

    Unions are more corrupt then businesses.

    August 4, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. scot

    keep running your mouth because in the end, that's all you know how to do......just keep running your mouth

    August 4, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Dave

    "Rallies Unions" ???????? NO SH!T!!!!

    He is bought and paid for by them.

    PLEASE wake up America and vote this corrupt incompetent egotistical thug out of office and start by making hima a lame duck in Novemebr.

    August 4, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Paul from Phoenix

    "But it "took us nearly a decade to dig ourselves into the hole that we're in" and a full recovery will take time."

    Nearly a decade? That would put us in the Clinton years. Any good reporter want to follow up on Obama's timeline?

    August 4, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Babaganusch

    Obama is still running against George Bush! LMAO. Same old tired rhetoric, and no vision for the future.

    August 4, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. Corby

    Maybe its time to start ripping some of the unions who are just as guilty as some of the big corporate abusers in getting more than they are entitled for what they produce.

    August 4, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Steve- Illinois

    Aside from government jobs and government projects, who do these union members think are going to hire them if the business people find all of these new regulations to expensive and restrictive? The welfare crowd? Bush may have run the economy into the ditch, but Obama's policies are heading it to the crusher! Maybe another 6 months of unemployment benefits will stimulate the economy and create millions of jobs! That's got to be the most laughable thing that Pelosi has ever said!

    You spend yourself INTO bankruptcy, not OUT of it!

    Common Sense!

    August 4, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Steve in North Carolina

    Unions and Obama are driving us into the ditch! Take a look at General Motors. Tons of federal money was pumped into that White Elephant only to see it declare bancruptcy.

    When is this guy going to take responsiblity for the mess he's created in our economy, tripling our deficit, and quit trying to blame Bush? Never I suspect.

    I'll take "W" over this clown any day of the week!

    August 4, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. Glennis

    Well, that's about as blatant an exhibition of pandering as I've seen. He's getting ever bolder about admitting he cares nothing for anyone other than his radical union leader friends. I say, if you want people to think you're dumb, just put a D in front of your name.

    August 4, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Liz the First

    If union folks think they'd be better off under rethuglican'ts, they're nuts! the party of NO has been trying to destroy unions for years. we are on the right track, but we will derail for sure if any more rethugs get into congress. there are way too many in there now to allow this country to really recover from the devastation of the bush 'presidency.' and yes, we are still blaming bush, just like folks are still blaming hitler for the holocaust. it's history and it doesn't go away just because some folks don't want to be reminded of it. the Dems have to pound this point home over and over that we were far worse off under bush and the party of NO than we are now and will be in the future. folks in this country have to get over the microwave-oven mindset when it comes to government. as much as we'd like him to, Obama can't wave a magic wand and make an eight-year mess go away in a few months. he's made fantastic progress but there's more to be done. don't tie his hands!

    August 4, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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