Clinton addresses union concerns

Kelly Pickerel

Former president rallies for Obama in Cleveland

Former President Bill Clinton is warmly greeted as he steps up to the podium in Cleveland yesterday. Clinton addressed many trade union members on why he backs Sen. Barack Obama. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Painters, carpenters, electricians and other building trades shivered in the cold outside City Hall in Cleveland yesterday to hear former President Bill Clinton rally for Obama and working families.

“You want a president who wants to understand and can understand,” Clinton said. “(Barack Obama) passed the test with flying colors.”

Clinton showed his support for his wife’s previous rival to a crowd of union members looking for change.

Jeff Hathaway, a member of the Plasterers and Cement Masons Union Local 109 of Akron-Canton, said he hope Obama turns the economy around.

“The best times were during the Clinton years,” Hathaway said of former President Clinton’s previous reign. “There were jobs on every corner.”

Clinton said Obama made the right choice with Sen. Joe Biden as his vice president, and the two together will help America get on stable ground.

“America cannot withdraw from the world. The next president needs to get our country out of the ditch,” Clinton said. “We have to deal with the health care issue, the jobs issue, the energy issue. That means for the next couple years, the vice president’s role will be more important because he’ll have to do that while the president gets us out of the ditch. Joe Biden will do a great job.”

Patrick Finley, general president of the Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons International Association, said Obama understands what the average citizen is going through.

“Do we buy our kids new sneakers or shoes, or do we sell the truck and get an older one?” he said. “These are the things that McCain doesn’t understand. Sen. Obama gets it. He knows what we’re going through.”

Although the rally was focused on working families, Clinton’s main message was that the country would soon turn around for the better. He recalled a quote from Winston Churchill after the United States entered World War II. Churchill said the United States always did the right thing after exhausting every other alternative.

“We have been in the shadows for three decades – we have exhausted all alternatives,” Clinton said. “We are about to do the right thing for our country.

“I think we are headed to a very big victory if we do our jobs.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].