Elections

Labor secretary latest surrogate to stump for Clinton

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stumps for Hillary Clinton in Charlotte

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stumped for Hillary Clinton Friday at the Clinton Campaign Office grand opening and voter registration kick-off on Sunset road in Charlotte. Diedra Laird
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Labor Secretary Thomas Perez stumped for Hillary Clinton Friday at the Clinton Campaign Office grand opening and voter registration kick-off on Sunset road in Charlotte. Diedra Laird

Speaking in Charlotte Friday, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez touted Democrat Hillary Clinton’s jobs program and said Republican Donald Trump lacks the temperament for the White House.

Perez, who spoke to Hispanic business leaders and headlined the opening of a campaign office, also said Trump’s economic policies would result in a loss of millions of jobs.

“The more you know about him the less you like him,” Perez told the Observer.

Perez, on the short list of Clinton’s possible running mates, was the latest high-profile surrogate to stump for Clinton. With the support of the Democratic Party establishment, Clinton can rely on such political leaders to extend the reach of her campaign.

President Barack Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Charlotte’s former mayor, are among the heavyweights who have campaigned for her.

The attention, coupled with recent visits to the state by Trump, Clinton and their running mates, reinforces North Carolina’s status as a top battleground.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll Friday showed Clinton with a 9-point lead over Trump in the state, 48 percent to 39 percent. In Real Clear Politics average of recent surveys, which factors in the new poll, Clinton’s lead is 2 points.

At the Observer, Perez, who said he was campaigning in his personal not official capacity, and whose visit was paid for by the Clinton campaign, trumpeted her jobs proposal.

She calls for spending $275 billion over five years on infrastructure, including construction projects as well as broadband. Such investments, he said, would result not only in higher employment but rising wages.

Clinton says she would pay for her plan by closing tax loopholes and raising taxes on “the most fortunate.”

Perez cited a study by Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi that showed Clinton’s economic policies would result in 10.4 million jobs over four years. An earlier Moody’s analysis said Trump’s plan would cost 3.5 million jobs.

But North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes called Clinton’s economic plan “merely an extension of the same failed Obama policies that have stifled economic growth, left wages stagnant and crippled the middle class.

“Americans have struggled for eight years under the weak Obama economy and our country cannot afford four more years of job-killing taxes and $2 trillion in new wasteful spending,” he said.

Trump’s North Carolina spokesman declined to comment.

The Trump campaign brought in its own surrogates – including daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Omarosa Manigault of Trump’s former show “The Apprentice” – to campaign for him over four days in the Charlotte area last week.

Perez said he believes independents and even Republicans are beginning to support Clinton, whom he called “the most famous unknown person in America.”

“There are two things happening,” he said. “Number one, people are getting to know Hillary Clinton… People are also starting to know Donald Trump, and the more you know about him the less you like about him.”

He said Trump’s “ready, fire, aim” style is “not an approach to national security… economic security (and) governance.”

Perez also said:

▪ Clinton realizes she has to build trust with many voters. The poll released Friday showed that 54 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of her (better than Trump’s 62 percent). He said she addressed such concerns with voters in his native New York when she ran for Senate.

“She earned their trust and then she ran again and then she earned their trust even more,” he said.

But he acknowledged she lacks the political skills of her husband. “By her own admission, she’s a lousy campaigner,” he said.

▪ He said Clinton would be tough on trade, a frequent target of Trump. Like Trump, she has said she would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by President Bill Clinton.

“She also recognizes that you can’t build a bubble around the United States,” he said. “Globalization is here to stay.”

▪ He called voter ID laws like the one just overturned in North Carolina “solutions in search of a problem.”

“Let’s face it,” he said, “this is about making it harder for African-Americans and Latinos to vote.”

▪ Asked how Clinton could push her program through a GOP Congress, he said Republicans would see it in their interest to back a jobs program.

“There are win-win situations,” he said.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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