Addressing a large labor gathering here, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday compared the opening night of the Republican National Convention to a well-known scene in the classic “The Wizard of Oz.”
There was “lots of sound and fury, even a fog machine,” Clinton said. But “when you pulled back the curtain, it was just Donald Trump with nothing to offer the American people.”
Her comments came early in an address to about 6,000 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the nation’s largest labor unions, gathered for a conference here.
While the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee was greeted enthusiastically – with audience members banging green boom sticks – Clinton hardly has a lock on the families such unions represent. Polls have showed one of Trump’s strongest constituencies to be white working-class men.
In her address, Clinton cautioned her audience to be wary of Trump’s claim that he is on the side of working families.
“We heard a lot of anger and division, but we did not hear a single solution that would help working families get ahead,” Clinton said of the GOP convention’s opening night in Cleveland, which she described as “surreal.”
Clinton made no mention of allegations that Trump’s wife, Melania, plagiarized part of remarks but said she hard plenty of criticism about her and President Barack Obama.
Clinton ticked off several areas on which her views line up with labor unions, including raising raising the minimum wage, mandating equal pay for women and expanding Social Security benefits.
And she argued that Trump’s policies and past actions have been hostile to workers, including decisions to manufacture clothing that bears his name and various other products in foreign countries.
“If Donald Trump wants to make America great again, he should start actually making things in America again,” Clinton said.
Trump has sought to use Clinton’s past support for trade deals against her, arguing that his more protectionist views would better protect U.S. jobs.
Clinton also picked up an endorsement Tuesday from UNITE HERE, a national labor union that represents workers in the hotel, gaming, food services and other industries that withheld its endorsement during the Democratic primaries.
In a statement, the union said that the decision to endorse Tuesday was influenced by Clinton’s commitment to change a provision in the Affordable Care Act that will impose an excise tax on high-end health care plans.
The tax, known as the “Cadillac tax,” is set to go into effect after President Obama leaves office and would affect the plans of many union members.
The union also praised Clinton’s support for comprehensive immigration reform and her support for Obama’s executive actions on immigration that have been blocked by the courts.
Clinton is scheduled to appear later Tuesday at a training center in Las Vegas run by the Culinary Workers Union, an affiliate of UNITE HERE.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · John Wagner