Today’s column by Bob Novak purports to detail Edwards’ appeal to the Change to Win unions (Teamsters, SEIU, UFW, UNITE-HERE) that broke off from the AFL-CIO in the summer of 2005. Given that CtW’s endorsement of Edwards has been predicted basically since CtW’s creation, this premise seemed sort of boring at first. But reading the piece, it seems to convince me not of Edwards’ overwhelming appeal to CtW, but of the growing possibility that it will sour on him. See this section, for instance:
Edwards’s unusual step of selecting former representative David Bonior of Michigan as his national campaign manager has been described as enlisting a laborite politician to woo labor. But Teamsters officials regard Bonior as less their friend than a friend of the United Auto Workers. Some believe Edwards would have been better advised to stick with his former campaign manager, Nick Baldick, an experienced political operative who has been given the task of advising Edwards on the early tests in Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. Baldick is renowned for saving Al Gore from oblivion in the 2000 New Hampshire primary.
The labor operatives pondering their ’08 decisions also confess they are less than comfortable with a prominent role in the campaign for Edwards’s wife, Elizabeth, who never has been a political spouse who stays in the shadows. It is not good news for Edwards if some Teamsters are put off by the triumvirate of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Dave Bonior.
This is very, very good news for Obama. If Obama can paint Edwards as a Gephardt type, mired in Old Labor-style protectionism and less concerned with issues like health care that are SEIU head Andy Stern’s bread and butter, there’s a very real possibility that he could get CtW to stay neutral, if not endorse him outright. Either of those options would be very, very good in Nevada, where CtW unions have a heavy presence.
On a somewhat related topic, does anyone actually see a possibility of Hillary Clinton winning any of the first three primaries? Edwards is the man to beat in Iowa, and despite his relatively abysmal name rec Obama is about even with Hillary, and he will undoubtedly pull far ahead of her after he actually starts campaigning. In Nevada, who wins depends more or less on how CtW acts, which would be on either Edwards’ or Obama’s behalf; Hillary isn’t even in the picture. And in New Hampshire, from personal experience and the press coverage of his visit to Manchester I can say that Obama is the frontrunner; Hillary doesn’t engender anywhere near the same excitement, and Edwards isn’t even on the radar screen. So where does Hillary fit in? And if she loses all three of the first contests, how on earth could she win the nomination? Just winning Iowa won Kerry the whole nomination. And if that’s the case in 2008, Hillary doesn’t have a chance.