Bi­den join­ing can­di­dates at AFL-CIO event

The Morning Call - - STATE / REGION - By Chris Bren­nan

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den will join U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders and five other Demo­cratic can­di­dates for pres­i­dent in a Philadel­phia la­bor fo­rum Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Bi­den, the Demo­cratic front-run­ner, had been slow to com­mit to the event at the Penn­syl­va­nia Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, a per­ceived snub that has caused fric­tion, es­pe­cially since his cam­paign head­quar­ters is four blocks from the venue.

Bi­den’s cam­paign on Mon­day told The Philadel­phia In­quirer he would ap­pear.

It has been more than four months since Pat Eid­ing, pres­i­dent of the AFL-CIO in Philadel­phia, called a meet­ing to tell lo­cal la­bor union lead­ers to “keep their pow­der dry” in pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics.

Eid­ing said in early May that a sud­den groundswel­l of sup­port for Bi­den was hap­pen­ing too fast.

He ex­pressed con­cerns then that Demo­cratic can­di­dates were court­ing big-dol­lar donors but not pay­ing enough at­ten­tion to rank-and-file union con­cerns.

Tues­day’s “Work­ers’ Pres­i­den­tial Sum­mit” grew from that meet­ing.

San­ders had been, un­til Mon­day, the only top-tier can­di­date on the bill for Tues­day. He is po­si­tioned in sec­ond place in an av­er­age of na­tional polling main­tained by the web­site Real Clear Pol­i­tics.

Two other can­di­dates who qual­i­fied for last Thurs­day’s Demo­cratic de­bate, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota and en­tre­pre­neur An­drew Yang, are also sched­uled to at­tend, along with bil­lion­aire ac­tivist Tom Steyer, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and au­thor Mar­i­anne Wil­liamson.

For­mer U.S. Rep. Joe Ses­tak of Delaware County had com­mit­ted to at­tend but then can­celed so he could cam­paign at two events in Iowa on Tues­day.

Bi­den was born in Scran­ton.

The can­di­dates will each ap­pear for 20 to 30 min­utes in front of a crowd an­tic­i­pated to num­ber about 2,000, with a mod­er­a­tor ask­ing ques­tions that have been sub­mit­ted through so­cial me­dia and the web­site for the event.

Eid­ing said the event is still open to any of the 13 other Demo­cratic can­di­dates who have not com­mit­ted to at­tend. The fo­rum opens at 3 p.m. and is ex­pected to draw union mem­bers from Philadel­phia, the four sur­round­ing sub­ur­ban coun­ties and South­ern New Jersey.

“We have this set up so that if (other can­di­dates) call up and say they’re com­ing, we’ll ac­com­mo­date them,” Eid­ing said. “We’ll make it hap­pen.”

Bi­den was the only Demo­cratic can­di­date who asked for a lone ap­pear­ance, apart from the other can­di­dates, Eid­ing said.

“I made it clear we couldn’t do it,” he said. “It would look like an en­dorse­ment.”

Joe Bi­den

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