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James Hoffa and Bill Clinton: The Dinner

By Jonathan Weisman
It must have been an awkward dinner.

Last Wednesday, Israel honored Teamsters President James P. Hoffa with its Yitzhak Rabin Legacy Award for his support of the Jewish state at a dinner in Washington. Among the guests was Bill Clinton, who needless to say was very interested in whether the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters planned to endorse a presidential candidate.

"He wanted us to back Hillary," Hoffa said yesterday.

The Teamster was evasive. The union was polling its members, he said. The results were not in yet.

This afternoon, the Teamsters executive board voted unanimously to endorse Clinton's rival, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), with the first joint campaign event planned for Friday in Ohio.

Hoffa said he tried to warn the Clintons before the news broke, to no avail. The cellphone number he had for Bill Clinton didn't work, he said.

"It's not personal. I hold Bill Clinton in highest regard. I hold Hillary Clinton in highest regard," he said, adding, "I owe them a call."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 20, 2008; 6:44 PM ET
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