An anti-war group, Code Pink, is hounding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) at almost every stop she makes on the campaign trail, hitting her again yesterday as she joined other candidates in seeking a union endorsement.
Standing in front of the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency, the group made its presence known, inviting a sea of union members from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to "go back downstairs and kiss Hillary's a--."
While the group of laborers, enjoying cigarettes between speakers at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) forum, looked on with bemused interest, the protesters sang songs and waved signs advising Clinton not to "buy Bush's war."
Although they rarely show up at an event in large numbers, the pink-clad protesters do make their presence known with persistence and intensity.
As The Hill reported last week, former President Bill Clinton all but acknowledged his wife's glaring vulnerabilities — stemming from her vote for the Iraq war authorization in 2002 — by offering an animated and full-throated defense of her decision.
That vote and her refusal to apologize for it, combined with continued votes for the war-funding bill, has spurred the anti-war crowd to make itself a thorn in Sen. Clinton's side at most every campaign event.
While the crowd at the CWA forum repeatedly rewarded Clinton's Tuesday morning speech with standing ovations, Code Pink's presence was noticed and mentioned by the labor brass present.
"We don't need that to be the focus of the news today," CWA's secretary-treasurer, Barbara Easterling, told the group.
One of Code Pink's co-founders, Gael Murphy, said the group has been following Clinton for almost two years and will continue to do so until she introduces legislation to bring American soldiers home from Iraq. Murphy said it was likely the group would protest Clinton and other candidates at this morning's forum sponsored by the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.
"We think it's important to put pressure on her as one of the most important politicians in the United States," Murphy said.
Murphy said not even an apology for the 2002 vote, like the one rival candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) has given, would appease the group.
"She's welcome to apologize, and it would be great to hear her apologize," Murphy said, adding that the group would only be satisfied with a candidate who will "sincerely demonstrate" his or her commitment to ending "the occupation" of Iraq.
Murphy said the group has been targeting a number of candidates, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), at whose Chicago field office it has been conducting weekly sit-ins.
But Clinton's front-runner status has made her a marked woman for anti-war candidates.
Clinton's campaign did not return phone calls from The Hill Tuesday, but President Clinton hardly was shy in his wife's defense last week, questioning the fairness of media reporting on Sen. Clinton's votes.
"It's just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war," the former president said last week.
Murphy said this week's vote on supplemental funding for the Iraq war is an "opportunity" for Clinton to start making her way back into the group's good graces.
© 2007 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.