Chris Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, invited on AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to comment on Barack Obama's immigration policy speech, but the segment ended in typical fashion as the two blamed the Republicans for thwarting true reforms with Matthews accusing them of playing the race card as he boiled down their efforts as merely "pandering to angry white people." Matthews also went on to say the GOP was "locking themselves in" to alienating the Latin-American voter as he asked Trumka: "How can the Republican Party kiss them off?" For his part the AFL-CIO president claimed the GOP was also on a mission to turn off the unemployed and senior citizens as he charged: "They're blowing the elderly off."
The following exchange was aired on the July 1 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What is the Republican, I mean, you're not a partisan, actually. You tend to be progressive in the union movement. But what is the Republican case besides just pandering to angry white people?
RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL-CIO PRESIDENT: Nothing.
MATTHEWS: What is their plan here?
TRUMKA: Well, their plan is to try to divide people up because they like the current system.
MATTHEWS: Because it's cheap labor.
TRUMKA: Well the current system gives them plentiful undocumented workers that are afraid to do anything. It creates a two-tier system, a permanent underclass that they use to drive wages down. So while they pander to people saying, "We want to fix it," they won't step up and do anything to fix it. That's what we're trying to do. We're in favor of that. Every single member of the union movement, every single union is in favor of the plan I just gave you. We think that the system is broken and must be fixed.
MATTHEWS: That's pretty forthright.
MATTHEWS: Richard if we have no more illegal immigration, if that border were ever to stop, it's not gonna close, but if it ever closed, we'd still 10 years from now, 20 years from now have a lot more Spanish background or Mexican background, Latin-American background Americans who would be voting. How can the Republican Party kiss them off? How can they just say we don't want Latino, Latina voters to vote for us? And that seems to be the position they're in, in locking themselves in. They can get away with it for a few years. Ten years, 20 years from now? They're gonna be a minority party.
TRUMKA: Absolutely. And they're gonna be locked into a minority status. But they're doing that to a lot of different groups. They're doing it to the laid off. Telling people that you, you don't have a job because you don't want a job.
TRUMKA: Not because you can't find it or because we have 15 million people unemployed and six people applying for every job. They're blowing them off. They're blowing the elderly off. It's everybody. This has been the party of no. It's veto or filibuster everything and agree to nothing.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Trumka, you speak clearly. Thank you. It's great to have you on. Happy Fourth of July sir.