Earlier this week, several 2016 Democratic contenders, not including Hillary Clinton, took the stage at the International Association of Fire Fighters‘ annual conference in Washington. Many notables attended including Jim Webb, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. The conference is open to politicians of any party and many Republican candidates attended as well.

Report from the Washington Times:

The Democratic presidential field’s long-shot hopefuls got a chance to make a pitch Tuesday for a key endorsement from firefighters unions, touting their union ties and working-class values without competition from Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With Mrs. Clinton preoccupied and unable to attend, all her potential rivals took turns testing out their stump speeches at the International Association of Fire Fighters‘ annual conference in Washington.

Each served up populist rhetoric that President Obama has helped make a cornerstone of the Democratic platform.

Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, beckoned the firefighters to join him battling a “war going on against working families.”

Mr. Sanders, a self-described socialist who caucuses with Democrats in the Senate and is considering running for president as a Democrat, proposed expanding union membership, instituting trade policies that protect U.S. jobs, making college more affordable and guaranteeing health care as a legal right.

Former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia talked up his Marine combat experience and vowed to use his leadership skills to fight for “true economic fairness” for American’s downtrodden middle class.

“The grand bargain that has been the foundation of our entire society is simple: if you work hard and elect leaders who will insist on a fair chance for you to succeed, you will have a good income and a comfortable way of life,” he said. “This simple concept is now at risk.”

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley channeled George H.W. Bush by blasting Republicans for pursuing “voodoo economics” — a phrase Mr. Bush used in the 1980 presidential campaign against Ronald Reagan. Mr. O’Malley blamed such “voodoo” for income gaps and vowed to restore the American Dream with a pro-union policies.

“To make the dream true again, we must fight for better wages for all workers, so that Americans can live again on what they earn,” he said. “That means raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay and respecting the rights of all workers to organize.”

The long-shot hopefuls made their appeals at the IAFF’s presidential forum, which included several Republicans who are eyeing a White House run in 2016: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rep. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rep. Peter King of New York, former New York Gov. George Pataki and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addressed the conference in a prerecorded video.

A day earlier, the conference heard from two other potential Democratic candidates, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

More than any other speaker, Mrs. Warren wowed the crowd with her anti-Wall Street rhetoric and populist rallying cry that has made her the left wing’s dream candidate for 2016.

We all know the Republicans who have their hat in the ring, but it’s interesting to see the Democrats begin to form a field of candidates offering the Hillary-alternative. The fact that Elizabeth Warren attended, despite her constant denials about running for president, may speak louder than her words.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Hillary was speaking at the U.N., but provided video comments.

    Why didn’t WT comment on any of the GOP comments?

    Peter King said the threatened shutdown of Homeland Security was unfriendly to firefighters.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/peter-king-blasts-gop-firefighters-dhs-shutdown-115939.html

    Scott Walker was invited. Only prospect to duck out. Of course, he stripped them of their rights. Instead, he equated union members to terrorists:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/10/scott-walker-unions-_n_6840510.html

    • Why would Walker (or any candidate for that matter of any party) bother speaking to a union conference? Unions have about zero political clout anymore outside certain regions that will vote Democrat regardless of the nominees. They’re losing membership all over the place which started well outside Wisconsin.

      Americans are fine with unions, but they also don’t think anyone should be REQUIRED to join one to get a job. Walker holds the prevailing view of most Americans.

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/175556/americans-approve-unions-support-right-work.aspx

      • And that was my point. The news should have been that a few GOP prospects had the cajones to go into the lion’s den. They should have gotten props.

        • At least people had a say in their crappy representatives.

          Never ceases to amaze me. Approval is so low, yet incumbents more than not will win re-election.

          • Incumbents win because nearly all districts are gerrymandered to make them “safe.” As I said elsewhere, you could have video of them eating puppies and still not get them out. Hardly “democracy.”

            But back to the other issue, did you not know that unions have elections?

            Why can’t we have RIGHT TO RESIDE laws, saying we don’t want to join a country–so we shouldn’t have to pay taxes?

            • “Breaking tonight, video surfaces of Congressman Smith eating puppies with a side of blue cheese… story at 11”

              Yes, I’m aware unions have elections.

              That fact is largely unrelated to whether or not the law can compel you to hold membership and pay dues as a condition of employment. Especially working in public service.

              I know you’re trying to correlate it to everyone being required to pay taxes even if “our guy” didn’t win or something. Nice try.

            • No. I’m saying that there is a direct correlation between being forced to pay “dues” to a union or a government. It has nothing to do with who wins any election. Irrelevant.

              It has to do with the fact that in both cases, if you belong to a group, you are naturally required to pay for the cost of benefits derived from the organization.

              I’m not arguing in favor of unions. I’m arguing why and how someone should be coerced to pay an organization. I see no reason why any taxes are any more legitimate than union dues.

              P.S. Blue cheese with puppy is just too gauche to consider.

            • Puppy with foie gras then..

              But see, the difference is that you can’t be compelled to be a member of the union, thus you don’t have to pay dues. Right to Work doesn’t mean you’re a non-paying member, it means you’re a non-member and can’t be forced to be a member as a condition of employment. Thus, no dues required…

              In order to compare that to government taxation, I’d have to live and work in the United States but not be a legal citizen. Oh wait, we have a lot of that..

            • Workers got together and said they wouldn’t work unless the company recognized their right to speak with one voice. Management (and government) recognized that right.

              [As side note, My father-in-law was a plant manager of a major corporation. He said he liked having a union, so that he wouldn’t have to spend all his time listening to the constant whining of a thousand individual workers. Petty grievances were the union’s problem.]

              I’m not sure why some members of the labor force were allowed to say they were not, in fact, “members” of that labor force. I suspect it was a religious issue–the appearance of “belonging” to a non-religious group, even though it was a fact. Thus, those members were allowed to call themselves “non-members,” but they continued to be a part of the labor force, and to benefit from union negotiations, so the “non-member” designation is superficial and non-substantial.

              I think your comparison of illegal aliens and “non-member” workers is apt. People who do not “belong” here should not be here.

            • I get all that.

              But you’re too deep in the weeds here. I’m just talking about Right to Work legislation. As in, I don’t have to be a union member as a condition of employment.

              New York, for example, is a closed-shop state. Many jobs, especially state jobs, mean that to work there, as a school teacher for example, you are a member of the union. You can’t work there and not be a member, that option doesn’t exist.

              Other states, like Virginia, are “right to work” which means that if I get a teaching job for the public school system, or private sector, it is my choice whether I want to be a part of the union or not. If I choose not to, I don’t pay dues and I don’t benefit from the union protections, grievance process, whatever, it’s my choice. My employment is between me and the school system.

              The result is that in New York, the unions are in near total control. In Virginia, they have little to no control so why bother joining?

              You’re in Michigan which just became “right to work” and your union membership is dropping like a rock.

              http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/01/michigan_union_membership_down.html

              Michigan’s right-to-work law, which prohibits new contracts from requiring union dues as a condition of employment, was approved by lawmakers amidst mass Capitol protests in 2012 and took effect in March of 2013.

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