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KWAME HOLMAN: The two leading democratic candidates focused heavily on jobs today. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was in Washington, D.C., Where he picked up a major endorsement from the AFL-CIO. John Sweeney, president of the 13 million-member labor organization, introduced Kerry.
JOHN SWEENEY: He has stood with working families throughout all of his years in public office, he has shown this country the kind of leadership we need through his powerful and positive campaign that has won the trust and confidence of millions of Americans. Brothers and sisters, please welcome the next president of this country, John Kerry. (Applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Kerry used the opportunity to repeat his attack on President Bush’s record on the economy, noting the president has declined to endorse an optimistic jobs forecast released by the white house last week.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Every single year George Bush has promised to create jobs, and every year he’s ended up losing them. Just last week, the White House promised to create 2.6 million jobs this year. But yesterday, George Bush said he couldn’t be held responsible for knowing the number of new jobs because he’s not in charge of numbers. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it just doesn’t take a lot of fuzzy math to count to zero. ( Cheers and applause )
KWAME HOLMAN: While Kerry was getting a boost from organized labor, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was blaming some of the job losses on the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement, which Kerry supported. Speaking in New York City, Edwards said NAFTA and other U.S. trade deals are not just about economics.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: This is a moral issue, and it’s about what’s right and wrong. The United States of America should never enter into a trade agreement that allows an American corporation to pick up, leave America, go to another country and hire children to make their product. It’s wrong, and you and I need to be willing to say so.
KWAME HOLMAN: Edwards finished a strong second in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, where he focused on the state’s loss of manufacturing jobs. He said voters will benefit by his staying in the race.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS: This country is so hungry for real change, for new leadership. And I think the truth is, it would be a loss if Senator Kerry and I did not debate these issues, did not give the people of New York, the people of America, these choices.
KWAME HOLMAN: Edwards and Kerry plan to crisscross the country in the run-up to the 12 contests on Super Tuesday, March 2.