CHICAGO (PAI)–Even as the Democrats continued their now-finished presidential campaign, the AFL-CIO launched its “define John McCain” campaign to disabuse popular notions about the presumed GOP presidential nominee. The results so far, according to federation Political Director Karen Ackerman:

* “Hundreds of flyers” in the federation’s McCain toolkit, tailored to specific issues important to each individual union. “What teachers want to know about McCain…What industrial workers want to know about McCain” and so on. The toolkit is on the AFL-CIO website.
* “The fact that his plan taxes health care benefits. That resonates deeply with our members.”

* McCain’s support of a national “right to work” bill. The senator’s state, Arizona, is a right-to-work state.

Teams of unionists trailing McCain at campaign events, starting Feb. 25 and continuing since then. They raise uncomfortable questions, challenging him on everything from health care to energy, and hand out literature about his positions.

“We’ve done about 125 public events, exposing him an asking him the hard questions which the progressive community has focused on,” she says. They include health care, his stands with anti-worker GOP President George W. Bush and Bush’s War in Iraq.

* Mobilizing union veterans–there are about 2 million of them–to honor McCain’s Indo-China war record and then point out that he votes against increasing veterans benefits. The federation’s veterans council has established affiliates in key swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Colorado.

* “We’re not denying his service to the country,” Ackerman says. “But we’re point out he’s not the right person for president.”