After Democrats' special-election losses, the president's union backers want him to drive a more aggressive message
Organized labor officials reacted to Democratic losses in Tuesday's special elections by making a demand of President Obama: Furnish voters with a sharper contrast between his job-creation efforts and those of congressional Republicans or risk swallowing the blame for Washington's dysfunction.
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Union leaders say the Democratic rank-and-file apathy evident in the humiliating loss in New York City's 9th District and the 22-point blowout in Nevada's 2nd District should spur Obama to pursue more aggressively populist talking points like arguing that oil and gas subsidies cost jobs for public-school teachers.
The leaders say Obama should more openly lobby Congress's special deficit-reduction committee for softer spending cuts and targeted tax-code reform. And they want the president to shed the compromise mantle that polls well with voters, often at the expense of congressional Democrats' priorities.
Former Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern said evidence of labor apathy in both New York and Nevada could presage electoral trouble for Obama and Democrats if the party fails to draw back voters, particularly the middle class, who have grown disillusioned with job-growth efforts.