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Clinton, Dodd scoring major union endorsements for Democratic presidential nomination

Clinton, Dodd scoring major union endorsements for Democratic presidential nomination

Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd is expecting the backing of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a major coup for the presidential hopeful, and leading contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has secured the endorsement of the United Transportation Union.
The Dodd endorsement is the more surprising, because the Connecticut senator lags behind better-known rivals Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards in the latest polls.
Unions traditionally are considered major assets for Democratic candidates. They provide large groups of like-minded people as sources of money and votes, but unions also are important for using their organizing skills to mount mass campaigns for their chosen candidates.
The firefighters' executive board will vote officially to endorse Dodd on Wednesday. Dodd and the firefighters plan a three-state tour, visiting Iowa on Thursday, New Hampshire on Friday and Nevada on Saturday. All three states have very early primary contests in which their Democratic parties select presidential electors.
In 2003, the 281,000-member union backed Democratic Sen. John Kerry and gave a boost to his then-moribund campaign that helped him secure the 2004 party nomination. Its selection of Dodd is certain to improve his standing.
The firefighters "know how to win elections, and they'll put lots of boots on the ground. This is an important election, and they know it," Dodd said. "They've made it clear it would be about the future _ who could win the election, fight for the middle class, and bring people together to get the job done."
IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger said Dodd earned their support because he is the best candidate, and the 25-year Senate veteran has been a longtime ally of firefighters in Congress.
"He's done more than vote right and be supportive _ he's really carried our water and been proactive on our behalf," Schaitberger said. "And the other reason is that I really think he has the experience. Our board gave a lot of thought to this. He has the experience and the strength to lead this country in what we know is going to be tough times."
Clinton got the endorsement of the 125,000-member United Transportation Union.
"The UTU has a long history of picking winners early. Hillary will be a president that America's working families can count on. Time and again, as a United States senator, she has stood with us," UTU President Paul Thompson said.
Clinton said she was honored to get the endorsement.
"America's workers have been invisible to this administration, and it's time they had an advocate in the White House," said the New York senator.
The UTU, which calls itself the largest railroad operating union in North America, represents 125,000 active and retired members in the railroad, bus and public transit industries.
The International Association of Fire Fighters represents more than 281,000 professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel in the United States and Canada. Firefighters emerged from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon as heroes, leading all eight Democratic candidates to work for their endorsement.
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On the Net:
http://www.iaff.org
http://www.utu.org