Hillary Clinton uses Atlantic City casino strikers as campaign props

By Genevieve Leigh
7 July 2016

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton held a campaign rally Wednesday in Atlantic City, New Jersey and made a token appearance at a casino workers’ picket line, attempting to exploit the strike to pose as a “friend of labor” and score points against her Republican rival Donald Trump.

The picket line photo op was coordinated with the bureaucracy of the hotel and restaurant union Unite HERE, which is backing Clinton. The union has isolated the week-old strike by 1,000 workers at the Trump Taj Mahal casino, a business formerly owned by Trump and now owned by billionaire financial raider Carl Icahn. The workers are fighting for the restoration of health and pension benefits taken away in a bankruptcy court settlement in 2014.

Unite HERE signed contracts with four other casinos before calling the strike at the Taj Mahal. No talks are scheduled.

Clinton devoted her speech to attacking Trump’s business record, specifically his role in the casino industry. To promote her own pro-business credentials, Clinton had local businessman Marty Rosenberg introduce her.

Clinton sought to draw attention to her middle class origins, declaring, “As a daughter of a small businessman whose hard work sent me to college, I have a special place in my heart for the contractors, the craftsmen, and the shopkeepers who built this city and keep it going.”

In a gesture to the unions, Clinton used her speech to promote economic nationalism. Her response to Trump’s trade war policies was to seek to outflank him by depicting his avowal of “America-first” nationalism as inconsistent and hypocritical. She gave a long list of Trump enterprises that outsource manufacturing and production jobs, and said, “If he wants to make America great again, maybe he should start by actually making things in America again.”

Clinton had nothing to say about the crisis in Atlantic City, which is on the verge of bankruptcy and has a poverty rate of 35.8 percent.