The Wall Street Journal reports that Barack Obama had to do some hard work in winning the endorsement from the Teamsters. Obama told the union that he favored an end to federal oversight intended to keep Mafia corruption out of the organization. Until now, presidential candidates have avoided any such politicking on this point, preferring to keep it in the DoJ — and Obama has already begun backpedaling:
Sen. Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign.
This morning, Obama has already started his retreat. This exchange on Good Morning America shows that Obama understands the damage he did:
SAWYER: Want to turn to the news of the day. Front page of “The Wall Street Journal” today, it says before you won the endorsement of the Teamsters, you indicated to them you would support ending strict federal oversight of the union, which was imposed back in the early ’90s to deal with corruption. Was that commitment made to them?
SEN. OBAMA: You know, I wouldn’t make any blanket commitments. what I’ve said is that we should take a look at what’s been happening over the Teamsters and at all unions to make sure that, in fact, you know, organized labor is able to represent its membership and engage in collective bargaining in accordance to what we’ve always believed.
SAWYER: But if they heard you to be saying that you did support, you did support lifting this strict federal oversight, are they wrong?
SEN. OBAMA: No, what I’ve said is that I would examine what is going on in terms of the federal oversight that’s been taking place, but it’s been in place for many years, the union has done a terrific job cleaning house, and the question is whether they’re going to be able to get treated just like every other union, whether that time has come and that’s something that I’ll absolutely examine when I’m president of the United States.