Biden talks up Social Security in courting Teamsters endorsement

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday made Social Security a key part of his pitch to the Teamsters leadership in a closed-door meeting as the powerful labor union weighs its 2024 endorsement.

Speaking with the leadership board, Biden discussed labor issues and Social Security a day after former President Donald Trump said in a CNBC interview that “there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting.”

As in his State of the Union address last week, Biden did not refer to Trump by name but instead called him “the former president,” according to Teamsters vice president at-large John Palmer, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Biden “got really passionate about Social Security” and cited Trump’s recent comments, Palmer said. He added that Biden used what he called a “Joe-ism” when he was talking about Trump, saying, “C’mon, man.”

The union has yet to endorse a presidential candidate. It usually waits until after the party conventions, spokesperson Kara Deniz said.

Asked whether the union will follow its traditional schedule this year, Deniz said, “We have a process we are following, and the roundtable is a part of that.”

The Republican National Convention is in July, followed by the Democratic convention in August.

Some Teamsters want the union to endorse Biden “sooner rather than later,” Palmer said. He counts himself in that group.

“Every day matters, especially about getting in front of the membership and explaining to them why. I mean, the differences couldn’t be any more stark,” Palmer said of Biden and Trump.

In a post on X about Tuesday’s meeting, the union said it “is conducting national polling of the membership and will begin work with its 360 local union affiliates to convene townhalls to hear directly from as many members as possible in all states in the lead up to the 2024 race.”

Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said in the post: “We appreciate President Biden taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with Teamsters members and leadership. The President shared that he is committed to continuing to support workers and standing with labor if elected to a second term.”

Trump met with the Teamsters leadership in January. After the meeting, he told reporters that he believed he had a “good shot” at securing the union’s endorsement.

“Usually a Republican wouldn’t get that endorsement,” he said.

The union endorsed Biden in 2020. Four years earlier, it endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In a statement Tuesday, the Biden campaign pointed to other union endorsements Biden has received, adding, “We hope to earn the support of the Teamsters as well.”

The campaign highlighted his “historic, pro-union record,” including a visit to a striking autoworkers’ picket line in Michigan in September.