Iowa Labor Union Members Blast Clinton For TPP, Forum Dodges

The Iowa AFL-CIO is hosting one of the first Democratic presidential candidate forums in the Hawkeye State today, and every Democrat running for the nomination is attending, except one:

Mrs. Clinton will skip another union event, the Iowa Federation of Labor, which is holding its annual convention in Altoona this week. Her Democratic rivals, including Martin O’Malley, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, all plan to speak at the influential union gathering in the crucial early nominating state

The decision to skip the forum was already raising eyebrows, given Clinton’s stiff competition shoring up labor union support, particularly from Bernie Sanders, but a Bloomberg report out this morning indicates union members are pushing back on Clinton, hard:

At an Altoona forum Thursday afternoon, Iowa labor leaders will interview four Democratic contenders about what they’d do as president. But they won’t be joined by the one they’d most like to cross-examine: front-runner Hillary Clinton, whose equivocal stance on a trade deal they despise and is causing consternation at this year’s Iowa union confab…

…[Iowa AFL-CIO President Ken] Sagar bemoaned Clinton’s refusal to fight the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership. “If you want to be the leader of the free world, why wouldn’t you tell people what your opinion is about issues that are critical to the working people of this country?” he asked. “It doesn’t make sense to me. But hey, I’m just a working guy out here in Iowa.”

Even worse for the Clinton camp, the beneficiary of her Iowa union blow-off is likely to be Sanders, already hot on her heels in New Hampshire and a life-long labor union advocate:

Steve Abbott, who heads the Communications Workers of America’s Iowa state council, says Clinton’s equivocation on trade is what spurred him to back Sanders. “Her lack of an answer gave me an answer,” says Abbott, who claims Clinton’s caution on the issue is helping Sanders win converts among his counterparts at other unions.