Hoffa: Dems Need To Take The Gloves Off, Or Some Union Votes Will Go To McCain

09/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Add James P. Hoffa to the growing list of Obama supporters rooting for tougher attacks against Republicans at the convention tonight. "We've got to start drawing a very clear line -- we're for the people and they're against the people," Hoffa said. "If it's going to be Hillary tonight or Biden tomorrow night, I don't know. But somebody's got to take the gloves off and ask the question: are you better off today than you were four or eight years ago?"

Then the Teamsters president answered his own question, saying "not unless you're a Bush billionaire. If you are, it's been the greatest eight years ever."

Recalling his speaking role at the 2004 Democratic convention, Hoffa told the Huffington Post that he had been expressly forbidden by the Kerry campaign from attacking President Bush. "They told me, this is going to be a love-in. Well, we've got to have sharp edges in this campaign. This is a big choice for America, and we're fighting for the middle class."

Hoffa warned that the wages of failing to draw those contrasts could be a lower return from traditionally Democratic union households. Asked if McCain had a better-than-average profile for a Republican among union members, Hoffa responded, "I'm not going to say that's not true," but added that his positive image stems mostly from his military record. "A lot of union people are gonna vote for him because of his war record. But if they're told he wants to take away their social security, or tax their medical benefits -- see, people don't know that. ... The fact is he was a POW, we'll give him that. But where does he stand today? He does have a record and it's all bad."

On the topic of party unity, Hoffa said he hoped "that's all behind us," though he admitted Sen. Hillary Clinton has a large task ahead of her tonight in making her own support for Obama clear. "She did it yesterday at the New York [delegation] breakfast," Hoffa said, adding: "She's got to hit it even harder tonight: that this is not about me, this is about the country."

Hoffa also said he and his union are ready to do their part for the Obama-Biden ticket, adding that he was personally looking forward to the prospect of rolling through Ohio and Pennsylvania with the presumptive vice presidential candidate. "Let's face it, there are some people out there that don't understand politics, who believe whatever the right wing blogs say about Obama being a Muslim ... [Biden] can help tell the truth about Barack Obama. And we'll be campaigning with our members in the battleground states. That's where I'm gonna be. ... The Teamsters will be available."

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