Union chief takes on a ‘Mama Grizzly’ — Sarah Palin

August 26, 2010

The head of the largest U.S. labor federation went to Alaska, “The Last Frontier,” to address local members Thursday and take on a self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzly” — Sarah Palin.

RACING/AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka mocked the former Alaska governor, a 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who is seen as a conservative power broker and potential 2012 White House hopeful.

“Sometimes — about Sarah Palin — you just have to laugh. But it’s not really funny,” Trumka said.

Citing her use of the phrase “don’t retreat – reload,” Trumka said, “She’s getting close to calling for violence.”

“Some of her fans take that stuff seriously. We’ve got legislators in America who have been living with death threats” since their votes in Congress in support of President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, he said.

Trumka’s remarks came at a speech in Anchorage to a gathering of the state’s chapter of his 11.5-million member AFL-CIO.

The union leader ripped into Palin on a number of fronts, including her use of the term, “union thugs.”

“That’s poisonous,” Trumka said. “That’s how bosses and politicians in decades past justified the terrorizing of workers, the murdering of organizers.”

Trumka noted that Palin has said she and fellow “Mama Grizzlies” — conservative activists — can just sense “when something’s not right.”

USA/“I wonder if those ‘Mama Grizzlies’ can sense something’s just not right with her,” Trumka said.

Palin responded on Twitter: “Know our hardworking union friends … aren’t sheep, they’ll ask:  Trumka’s motive?”

“Think Trumka’s frustrations r w/Obama, not me,” Palin wrote, citing the high unemployment and what she described as Obama’s broken promises. “So understandable Rich’s ticked.”

In his remarks to union members, Trumka reminisced about Palin.

“She used to have a job, your governor. You knew her. Or thought you did. I know I thought I did. She seemed like a decent person …. She seemed to take some OK stands for working families.

“And then things got weird. After she tied herself to (2008 Republican Presidential nominee) John McCain and they lost, she blew off Alaska. I guess she figured she’d trade up — shoot for a national stage. Alaska was too far from the FOX TV spotlight.”

Trumka predicted Palin would go down in history like former Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who smeared a parade of Americans with unsubstantiated charges of being communist in the 1950s, giving rise to the word “McCarthyism.”

Said Trumka, “Palinism will become an ugly word.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Palin in the stands at the 142nd Belmont Stakes, the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, in New York in June); Reuters/Mike Segar (Trumka speaking to a protesters at a union rally in New York in April)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Sarah Palin and her family are a train wreck. Funny how the Christian Right which had so much criticism about unwed teenagers just a decade ago now embraces this whole “family circus.”

Every time this woman opens her mouth, all you hear is fabrications and attacks, and her following are such sheep they do not bother to check the facts and figure out she is off her rocker!

There is a mean spirited war by the conservative right against the working poor, and the unemployed where we hear that they are lazy and want something for nothing. All the millions of jobs that have moved to Mexico and China did not leave because people in America are lazy; they were sent there for the cheap labor (in many cases less than $1 a day).

While we like to purchase cheap merchandise, the ones mainly profiting from this are the CEO’s who move the jobs and then reward themselves with multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses.

We as Americans must stop purchasing products made in Mexico, China, and other slave labor countries in order to bring Jobs Back. No politician can return these jobs – – only we the consumers.

Posted by Robert76 | Report as abusive

That hat, those sunglasses. Don’t they just scream out “trailerpark”? And “don’t retreat, reload” sounds like something the Taliban would say.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Protectionism would fail and socialism has failed.
Your union boss is forward thinking and is protecting his turf. While unions have there time and place this is not it. The last thing we need is a socialized system where the union workers are protected while those outside the club struggle.
Isn’t it typical no substanace just name calling. Typical liberal retoric, trailer parks across america revolt and keep your hat and sunglasses on.

Posted by 10_Tomas | Report as abusive

Sorry, 10_Tomas, but it is Reaganism that has failed. It was an experiment, a radical idea, that did not work. A few successes, but overall it was an utter failure that put us in this mess. A narrow band of people have become fabulously wealthy off of this enormously inefficient system we have in America, which doesn’t even fit with the principles of capitalism. Adam Smith, who figured out market economics and whose book is still in print after 233 years, said that any policy that benefits the majority of the people must be a good policy. So-called free-market capitalism is not a policy that benefits the majority of the people.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

socialism ahhhhhhh

Posted by 10_Tomas | Report as abusive

Liberals allways twist the truth. Smith argued that state and personal efforts, to promote social good are ineffectual compared to unbridled market forces.

Posted by 10_Tomas | Report as abusive

Fear mongering – ahhhhhh!

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Conservatives twist the truth to match their conclusions. Liberals look at the truth, and then arrive at their conclusions.
Smith wrote that for his model of free market capitalism to benefit the majority of people, “every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interests in his own way.”
Today’s conservatives ignore the laws of justice and truth in pursuit of their own self interest.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

Trumka, as the head of the UMW called on workers to “kick the sh*t” out of anyone who crossed picket lines; was in charge through several riots, and the shooting death of a “scab”.

But now speech that might possibly lead to violence is bad? hwne he was calling for the beating and death of those who opposed him as head of the UMW I don’t get the feeling he opposed this sort of thing.

Get back to me when dozens are beaten or killed due to Palin’s speeches and then Trumka might in a position to talk.

Right now, he’s been a much worse problem calling for violence than Palin is ever likely to be.

Posted by ertdfg | Report as abusive

[…] from Reuters jQuery(document).ready(function($) { […]

Posted by GOP Women Still Embracing Mama Grizzly Chic | Report as abusive