Many Republican leaders are eager for Mitt Romney to clinch the presidential nomination, but an unlikely group — the nation’s union leaders — also relishes that prospect.
While many labor leaders back President Obama and acknowledge that it might be easier for him to defeat Rick Santorum, they seem to savor the idea of taking on Mr. Romney, seeing him as an easy target in this age of the 99 percent and 1 percent. Unions are already rolling out plans to attack him with a populist message about the layoffs ordered by Bain Capital, his proposals to cut taxes on the wealthy and his statements like his $374,000 in speaking fees were “not very much.”
“Do we welcome doing battle with him over his past as a businessman? You bet,” said Tim Waters, political director of the United Steelworkers. “We’re already talking to folks about what happened in his years at Bain — how they closed all these factories and people’s lives were destroyed by this kind of vulture capitalism.”
The A.F.L.-C.I.O., which formally endorsed Mr. Obama on March 13, plans to mount its biggest electoral effort this year. It plans to reach out to millions of nonunion members and to try to woo many working-class whites away from the Republicans.
Richard Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president, voiced confidence that many Reagan Democrats would embrace Mr. Obama over Mr. Romney.
“Right off the bat we see that Romney has problems relating to workers because he’s part of the 1 percent,” Mr. Trumka said. “Every time he opens his mouth it comes out that he’s about the upper class. He doesn’t understand workers because he’s never around us.”
This November unions not only hope to re-elect Mr. Obama and help the Democrats regain control of the House, but also hope to undo some of the damage they suffered in the 2010 elections, when Republicans captured many state legislatures and governors’ mansions. Unions plan to run intensive state and local campaigns that go beyond their ongoing effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, who pushed through legislation to curb public employees’ bargaining rights.