Predictably, the White House is backing quickly away from Teamsters President James Hoffa’s call to “take out” Republicans at the polls. Whether that’s because Fox edited Hoffa’s words to make them sound like a call to violence and this White House doesn’t push back on manufactured controversies, because Hoffa referred to “sons of bitches” and that was rude, or because Obama doesn’t want to be associated with that kind of partisanship, it’s no shock.
Perhaps more telling of the distance between this White House and unions, though, was how press secretary Jay Carney characterized Hoffa:
Moving quickly to distance himself and President Obama from Hoffa’s controversial comments at a Labor Day rally, Carney said that Hoffa “speaks for himself, he speaks for the labor movement, the AFL-CIO.”
Hoffa is president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which, you’ll notice, Carney did not identify him with. The AFL-CIO, meanwhile, is a federation of dozens of unions, and the Teamsters are not a part of that federation. They split with the AFL-CIO in 2005, along with the SEIU and several other unions, to form Change to Win. Two of those unions have since rejoined the AFL-CIO, but the Teamsters remain part of Change to Win.
Yes, people misspeak. But this is the kind of thing that a White House press secretary ought to know, even when seeking to create distance.