by Mike Dorning
PHILADELPHIA — Barack Obama mocked rival Hillary Clinton this morning for comparing herself to the movie character Rocky Balboa as he offered Pennsylvania labor leaders a speech laden with red-meat economic populism.
Clinton has made the theme song from the 1976 movie "Rocky," which was set in Philadelphia, a part of the soundtrack of her Pennsylvania primary campaign. When she appeared before the same Pennsylvania AFL-CIO state convention a day earlier, she invoked the fictional working-class boxing hero to explain her determination to continue her campaign, declaring that, like Rocky, “I never quit.”
“There’s been some talk about Rocky Balboa over the last couple days. And you know we all love Rocky,” Obama told the labor leaders.
“But we got to remember Rocky was a movie,” Obama continued. “And so is the idea that someone can fight for working people and at the same time, embrace the broken system Washington, where corporate lobbyists use their clout to shape laws to their liking.”
Obama pounded away at corporate excesses and Republican economic policies.
“We’re ready to play offense for organized labor,” Obama said. “It’s time we had a President who didn’t choke saying the word “union.” A President who knows it’s the Department of Labor and not the Department of Management.
“Over the last seven years,” he said, “we’ve had an administration that serves the interests of the wealthy and the well-connected, no matter what the cost to working families, and to our economy.”
As he has elsewhere during his bus tour through Pennsylvania, Obama attacked $19 million in bonuses given to the two top executives of Countrywide Financial, a subprime mortgage lender that issues many loans now in foreclosure. The executives negotiated a sale of the company with losses to investors but the new owner, Banc of America Corp., recently revealed bonuses to the same executives.
“The system is broken – and over the weekend, we got a reminder of just how badly it’s broken,” Obama said, describing the bonuses. “That is an outrage. That’s not the America we believe in. It’s time to take on the special interests and level the playing field so that our economy works for working Americans.”
Obama pitched an economic agenda that includes middle-class tax cuts, a plan for universal access to health care, and stricter labor, environmental and safety provisions in trade agreements.
And he linked presumptive Republican nominee to the economic policies of the Bush Administration.
“John McCain said a few weeks ago that ‘the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should’ – and that’s clear since all he’s offering is more of the same Bush policies that have put the American Dream out of reach for so many Americans,” Obama said.
Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant blasted Obama’s address as ““yet another example (of) an old-style, shifty political maneuver colliding with the empty rhetoric of his stump speech.”