Hillary Clinton Looks to Secure Labor Support

NYT FDMaggie Haberman March 19, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 7.59.30 AM

Good Thursday morning from Washington, where royalty will be paying a rare visit to the White House. Congress remains logjammed in many respects, but a warm moment between Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky showed the Senate’s softer side. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is facing a backlash from conservatives over the handling of one of his aides, while two other would-be presidential front-runners are moving ahead with their pre-campaign machinations.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is likely to become a declared presidential candidate in the coming days, will spend Monday morning reconnecting with the Democratic base.

Mrs. Clinton will be the featured attraction at an event with a major union leader, held at the Center for American Progress, a leading liberal think tank in Washington. It’s run by her longtime adviser Neera Tanden, and founded by one of her campaign-advisers-to-be, John D. Podesta.

Mrs. Clinton will be joined by at least two major union leaders, Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, according to people briefed on the list of attendees. Julián Castro, the housing secretary, who held a private meeting with Mrs. Clinton in her home last year, is also scheduled to attend.

The topic has been billed as a “discussion on expanding opportunities in America’s urban areas.”

But the setting is as significant as the discussion centerpiece. Mrs. Clinton, looking to avoid a reprise of the 2008 presidential primary, has been making overtures to keep Democrats who were leery of her in her first campaign from drifting away as the party debates how to grapple with income inequality.

Equally important in terms of organized labor is the current debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that President Obama is hoping to hammer out. The early seeds of the discussions over the deal began while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.

Union leaders like Richard Trumka of the the A.F.L.-C.I.O. have opposed the deal, as has Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who remains the wished-for Democratic candidate of some progressives.