WASHINGTON, D.C. – With socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders surging among Democratic voters, a national teachers union is rushing to shore up support for Hillary Clinton.
The American Federation of Teachers announced Saturday it has endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary for president — nearly six months before any ballots are cast.
Union president Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten said in a statement:
In vision, in experience and in leadership, Hillary Clinton is the champion working families need in the White House.
Hillary Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by our members, and is prepared for a tough fight on behalf of students, families and communities. That fight defines her campaign and her career. In Arkansas, Hillary fought to expand access to early childhood education and care. As first lady, she fought for the right to affordable, high-quality healthcare and helped win that right for our youngest citizens. As senator, she fought for education funding and workers’ rights, and she defended public service workers who came to our nation’s defense on Sept. 11. And as secretary of state, she promoted democracy throughout the world, lifting up the worth and dignity of all people—men and women, gay and straight.
(Clinton promoted the “dignity” of “gay” “women” in the Muslim world? Really? Is that one of her accomplishments? Alas, we’re getting sidetracked.)
In the news released, Weingarten noted Hillary is “a product of public schools herself [and] believes in the promise of public education.”
The union boss neglected to mention during their time in the White House, the Clintons sent their daughter Chelsea to the tony Sidwell Friends — a private school.
The union’s move comes as Sanders is surging in the polls in key states and drawing huge crowds.
The AFT’s national endorsement is also likely a plan to negate any local teachers union endorsements.
The union of Sanders’ home state — an affiliate of the larger National Education Association — has already endorsed the Vermont senator.
“We are not used to getting involved in presidential primaries particularly early,” Vermont-NEA spokesman Darren Allen tells the Burlington Free Press.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that this union is heartily behind Bernie’s message.”
“We’ve never had Bernie running for president,” adds Martha Allen, state union president.
Hillary Clinton has a history with Randi Weingarten.
When Clinton was appointed secretary of state in 2009, Weingarten — a New York resident and then president of the New York City teachers union — was angling for the U.S. senate seat Clinton was vacating.
Then Gov. David Paterson narrowed his appointment decision to Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand and Weingarten.
He opted for the former, CNN reported in January 2009.
When challenged about the intent of the AFT’s endorsement of Hillary so early in the process, Weingarten tweeted:
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) July 11, 2015