Obama Challenging Edwards for SEIU Support

John Edwards has been hoping for more support from labor to keep his campaign alive. The conventional wisdom last month seemed to be that the the SEIU would either endorse Edwards or make no endorsement. It now looks like Obama is challenging Edwards for their support, as reported by Mark Ambinder:

The Service Employees won’t endorse anyone today, but judging from a straw poll of their members, John Edwards and Barack Obama would have the inside track.

That’s not a surprise — Edwards has been working the SEIU for years, and Obama’s biography is tailor-made for SEIU members.

Sources close to the SEIU executive board would not tell me whether Edwards or Obama scored higher in the poll but did acknowledge that both had polled the highest. An SEIU spokesperson said the union would not reveal the results.

Obama’s support from the SEIU members is an example of why he would make a much stronger candidate in a general election campaign, even if he turns out to come in a respectable second among these union members. The general trend has been that Obama receives more support from the highly educated and professionals while Edwards is receiving increased opposition from such groups (with the exception of the trial lawyers). While Edwards’ support is increasingly limited to those who fall for his populist pitch, Obama can receive more widespread support, including from professionals as well as union members. While this may or may not matter in 2008, an election where the Democrats have a tremendous advantage regardless of their nominee, this is important if the goal is to rebuild a coalition which can replace the New Deal coalition and become a majority party.

Richardson at SEIU Conference

Bill Richardson just must get these gaffes under control if he’s going to have a chance at the nomination. David Corn reports:

I was at an SEIU conference today, mainly to see how the leading Democratic candidates–Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards–would do in front of the influential union group. All were scheduled to speak to the unionists. Obama gave a rousing address that brought audience members to their feet many times. It was one of the best stump performances of his I’ve seen. Then came New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He, too, was warmly welcomed and offered up many serious policy proposals in trying to convince the crowd that he ought to be regarded as a major player. As I listened, I wondered why he has not been taken more seriously as a candidate–a smart, accomplished governor of Latino heritage. Then I found out.

At the end of his speech–after noting all the ways he would defend the Constitution and redress global warming–he waved farewell to the crowd and shouted, “Thank you, AFSCME!”

AFSCME? Wrong union, governor. He left and the audience repeatedly shouted, “S-E-I-U!” A polite reminder.

Unfortunately a gaffe like this will get more coverage than his policy proposals.

Why Do Republicans Hate the Troops?

The Washington Post reports:

Senate Republicans yesterday rejected a bipartisan proposal to lengthen the home leaves of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, derailing a measure that war opponents viewed as one of the best chances to force President Bush to accelerate a redeployment of forces.

The proposal, sponsored by Sens. James Webb (D-Va.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), failed on a 56 to 44 vote, with 60 votes needed for passage — a tally that was virtually identical to a previous vote in July. A last-minute campaign by the Defense Department and the White House to kill the measure won over Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), an influential voice on defense policy who had voted with Webb and Hagel in July.

Edwards Attacks Clinton on Health Care

Speaking of Hillary Clinton (in the previous post), I’m also having a difficult time figuring out how John and Elizabeth Edwards can criticize her health care plan one day and then complain that it is “a health care plan that is in every material respect just like John’s” or that Clinton’s plan is “John Edwards’ health care plan as delivered by Hillary Clinton.” Besides, considering how similar his plan is to plans implemented or recommended by Republican governors in Massachusetts and California, I don’t see where Edwards has sole ownership of these ideas.

Clinton Warns of Darth Cheney

There may be some controversy as to whether MoveOn used appropriate language in their General Betray Us ad, but I bet Hillary Clinton will come out ahead for referring to Dick Cheney as Darth Vader. The Politico reports:

“You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the vice president’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges,” Clinton said just now at town hall in New York, referring to Cheney’s efforts shore up Republican congressional support for the Iraq war.

I’m sure we’ll see a growing number of conservative blogs complaining. However they represent a distinct minority of Americans who approve of Dick Cheney and would never vote Democratic. Most voters who would consider voting for a Democrat are likely to understand and approve.