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Teamsters Endorse Obama

Updated 4:49 p.m.
By Jonathan Weisman
The International Brotherhood of the Teamsters, one of the largest, most storied unions in the country, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president this afternoon.

The union voted this afternoon before the endorsement was announced, and Teamsters President James P. Hoffa then met with Obama in Austin, Texas, to promise the muscle of his 1.4 million member union.

"Senator Obama understands the challenges working people face every day," Hoffa said. "He is the candidate in the best position to lead our movement to restore the American dream for working people in this country."

The endorsement is another blow to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who began her campaign as the representative of the Democratic establishment, including organized labor. Clinton has the support of the powerful government workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But Obama secured the nomination of the Service Employees International Union, the vanguard of a newer breed of service unions.

Now, he has a major old muscle union in the Teamsters.

The GOP was quick to use word of the endorsement to take a swipe at the Democratic front-runner. "Nothing says 'change' like the Teamsters and James Hoffa," scoffed Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant. "Long-winded speeches and partisan endorsements are no substitute for serious policy discussions. Some partisan groups may applaud Obama's 'most liberal' rhetoric, but the freshman senator must still answer real questions about his record and experience."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 20, 2008; 2:19 PM ET
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