Labor launches McCain Revealed campaign

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Everywhere Republican presidential candidate John McCain goes these days he is finding union activists confronting him on economic issues and demanding that he speak to working families’ concerns. Since March 1, union members have held actions at McCain events in Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire.

On March 12, the AFL-CIO officially launched a campaign to expose McCain’s anti-worker economic record and his plans to continue the failed programs of the Bush administration. The “McCain Revealed” campaign, as it is called, will reach more than 13 million voters in 23 battleground states, the federation’s political director, Karen Ackerman, said.

The campaign is a major component of the AFL-CIO’s $53.4 million 2008 election mobilization, its largest in history.

“Our economy is in crisis after years of failed Bush administration policies that Sen. McCain supports and has adopted as his own,” Ackerman said. “Sen. McCain’s record shows he’s in lockstep with President Bush on economic issues. He’s voted repeatedly for trade deals that ship our jobs overseas, he’s voted against protecting overtime pay, he’s voted against health insurance for children, and he supports the Bush Social Security privatization plan. McCain is Bush No. 3.”

“It’s clear that John McCain hopes to conduct this campaign without ever having to explain his economic priorities to working people,” Ackerman said. “Public opinion polls show the economy is the top concern of voters, yet Sen. McCain has said very little about his economic positions and, as a result, working families know very little about where he stands on pocketbook concerns. That all changes today.”

A look at the main elements of labor’s “McCain Revealed” push shows that the unions are dead serious about all this.

Following McCain around the country is actually only a small part of a much bigger drive.

The unions plan an immediate campaign to reach 6.7 million voters in what they call five “top-tier priority states” — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Between now and March 31, more than 100,000 worksite leaflets on the McCain record will be distributed to union members in those states. By the end of April, that number will be 425,000 leaflets handed to people on the job.

On May 17, the AFL-CIO will hold a national canvass in which union members will knock on 400,000 union voters’ doors in one day, with information on McCain’s economic record.

The union effort will also employ sophisticated voter communication strategies including microtargeting to ensure that all union households receive information. The goal is that every union member in the country will be contacted. Plans are to contact members not just at the workplace but at home, by phone, online and through direct mail.

The federation has also launched a website, www.mccainrevealed.org, which publicizes the McCain record and demands that he change his positions to favor workers.

“The AFL-CIO intends to lead the way in the coming months to turn our country in a new direction,” Ackerman said.

jwojcik@pww.org