RACINE, W.Va. — It was a traffic jam the likes of which residents of rural southern West Virginia had never seen. Over 5,000 workers wound their way up a narrow road here to hear Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry slam George W. Bush’s record on jobs, health care and foreign policy at a Labor Day celebration hosted by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

“It all comes down to one letter: W. George W. Bush,” Kerry roared, pumping the air with his fist. “What do you think ‘W’ stands for? That ‘W’ stands for wrong. Wrong choices, wrong direction for America.”

Kerry charged Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney with catering to the energy corporations and the Saudis, who own and control coal, oil and natural gas resources.

President Bush has stumped in West Virginia on energy independence for the U.S., which would put workers in the Mountaineer State back to work. Kerry directly challenged Bush energy policy by noting that the president had the energy corporations, alone and in secret, write the energy blueprint for tens of thousands of workers and millions of consumers.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts presented Kerry with a shotgun made by UMWA members and called on West Virginia voters to look beyond Bush photo-ops. The Republicans “are pretty good at raising the Bible, pointing the Bible at us,” said Roberts. “But you know what we do in the Democratic Party? We open it up and see what it says.”

Retired miner Stan Kenny spoke for the cheering crowd. “They talk about Kerry being a ‘flip-flop,’” he said. “That’s what Bush is. He put the steel tariffs in for workers like myself and then threw them out for his friends in big business.”

Boos greeted Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for re-election. She left early. Eric Wells, the Democratic candidate for that seat, was not present, but issued a press release saying that the crowd’s reaction indicates that Capito is “just not a friend of working families and they know it.”

Workers, 50,000 strong, jammed Charleston’s riverfront on Labor Day for a seven-hour rally and music celebration. United Steelworkers of America President Leo Gerard blasted the Bush job record.

“How the hell can this guy ask to be re-elected?” thundered the former nickel miner, citing the 1.5 million jobs lost, 5.2 million more Americans without health care and 3 million in poverty since Bush took office.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, flanked by actor Danny Glover and numerous labor and religious leaders, tackled California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s flip quip to the Republican National Convention, where he described those critical of the Bush economy as “economic girlie men.”

“Thirty-four steel mills have closed. Are these girlie men?” demanded Jackson. The crowd roared in response, “No!”

Tags:

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR