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De Blasio slams O’Rourke at airport worker strike and Ryan says he was right about Taliban in debate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio kept the heat on former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke Thursday afternoon at a strike in Miami, Florida.

They’d clashed the night before on the debate stage over the issue of private health insurance, after O’Rourke said it should not be eliminated. De Blasio interjected to say private insurance ‘is not working’ and advocated for a single payer system. 

At an airport strike, de Blasio attacked O’Rourke again, after telling assembled press he believes, ‘This should be the party of working people.’

‘I took issue with Congressman O’Rourke because I didn’t hear him acknowledge that the current private health care system, the current private insurance system is failing tens of millions of Americans,’ he argued. ‘In order to be on the side of working people, you’ve got to start by being honest with them.’

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan also attempted to relitigate a debate dispute at the walkout. He claimed he was ‘right; to blame the Taliban for the 9/11 terror attack during an argument with Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The two candidates joined a lunchtime protest outside the American Airlines departure terminal at the Miami International Airport before they left town.

De Blasio has billed the event as a rally in an advisory before organizers allowed the walkout by Eulin contractors to be publicly announced. 

Eulin contractors at four major airports in Washington, D.C., Miami, Fort Lauderdale and New York City were participating in a 24-hour walk out to bring attention to worker conditions. They claim Eulin is cutting hours to skirt legal requirements like health care and sick days.

The worker abuse goes further than that, airport workers, who were organized by a chapter of SEIU, said at the event.  They say the company takes advantage of American immigrants.

‘We don’t get nothing. We don’t have no sick leave …. We don’t have a break room. So it’s basically everybody sitting out in the sun,’ one of the lead organizers, Sandra Smith, told 

She said, ‘We don’t have proper working equipment… feces, vomit, everything dirty.’ 

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker spoke to workers early Thursday morning, ahead of a flight back to Washington for Senate votes, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren met with workers, privately, according to the 32BJ SEIU Florida director Helene O’Brien.

Smith said she would have ‘liked to see’ more Democratic candidates at the strike.  

‘But who can come, I appreciate them coming and showing their support for us. I’m so happy that they came and stand with us,’ she said.

O’Rourke and other candidates visited Homestead, a migrant detention facility for youth on Thursday. It has become a must-stop location and litmus test for candidates seeking to prove they stand for more humane treatment of illegal immigration children. 

Ryan said directly to cameras: ‘I stand in solidarity with each and every one of you…I just want to tell everybody in the camera, I’m 1,000 percent with these workers.’

He added, ‘And I may be from Ohio, but this is the coalition of workers that need to take over the agenda in the United States of America.’

At the Wednesday evening debate, Ryan chided fellow Democrats for a perception that their coastal elites who are out of touch with blue collar workers.

‘We have a perception problem with the Democratic party,’ he said. ‘We are not connecting to the working-class people in the very states I represent, in Ohio, in the industrial Mid-West. We’ve lost all connection.’ 

He told after the event that he was talking about workers like the ones at the midday rally.

‘This is the forgotten worker I was talking about last night, and they’re white, and they’re black and they’re brown, and they’re immigrants in the United States,’ he stated. ‘This is the coalition that I am going to build to win this election and to reset the agenda in Washington, D.C. Period. This is it right here.’ 

Ryan had said in his remarks, which he delivered in English and an organizer translated to Spanish, ‘My great grandfather was Italian and they immigrated to this country for work. And many people got killed and abused in the steel mills. 

‘And they treated their workers like s***. And so my great great grandparents started and fought for the unions in the United States of America. And we are going to finish the union movement, starting right here in the Miami airport.’

He said he was joining forces with de Blasio for the event to deliver a message.

‘I want you to know that the mayor and myself, we see you, we hear you. You are our agenda. You’re not on our agenda. You are our agenda,’ he said. 

‘And so give them hell, know that you have people out there campaigning for the highest office in the land that consider the union movement the backbone of the United States of America, and we’re not going to be happy until every single worker in the united states has one word: dignity.’   

Ryan brushed off a debate gaffe, that created the impression that he didn’t understand the difference between two terrorists groups that operate separately from one another in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Gabbard, a veteran, had said, ‘We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we’re going to somehow squash this Taliban that has been there, that every other country that has tried has failed.’

Ryan responded, ‘I’m not saying squash them. When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings. So I’m just saying right now, we have to–’ 

Before he could finish, Gabbard told him, ‘The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did.’

Ryan said he knows that, but Gabbard repeated herself, leading to a standout moment for herself.

‘That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after Al Qaeda. Not the Taliban,’ she asserted curtly.

He told at the airport that he didn’t ‘mix up’ the terror groups and was ‘right’ on the point he was attempting to make in the discussion.

‘No, I did not. No, I did not,’ he insisted. ‘She was talking about the Taliban in Afghanistan. And my point was, that the Taliban protected Al Qaeda in that region, because we weren’t there and nobody else was there. 

He continued, ;And so that’s where the Taliban provided the protection for Al Qaeda in that region. She went back, and I said, I’m talking about Al Qaeda through the planes, but the Taliban protected them. So I was very clear, but we were talking about the Taliban in Afghanistan.’ 

Ryan said he’d be vindicated and the argument wouldn’t cost him precious support in the race. 

‘No, I don’t think so at all. I think, I think, I’m clearly on the right side of this issue. We know that the Taliban was protecting Al Qaeda, and that’s how they organized 9/11. Period,.And we can’t afford for that to happen again,’ he stated.

De Blasio, on the other hand, was still hung up on his fight with O’Rourke.

‘When this process is over, we better have a nominee that people believe is truly on their side and is going to stand up for people, not a nominee that we don’t even know where they stand,’ he told reporters after he’d addressed union workers. 

He said Democrats are having an intense, intra-party fight about the direction of the party,=.

‘And part of why you saw some real differences on display last night, is because we haven’t resolved who we are as Democrats,’ he argued. ‘I have a very simple idea – this should be the party of working people – and that’s what I talk about wherever we go.’ 

He said he was ‘proud’ of his performance: ‘I gave people a really clear understanding of my values, and I’m ready to fight for them.’ 

As for a dispute that hit home and brought him new scrutiny from New York Police Department union chief, de Blasio said it was ‘ridiculous’ for his nemesis to attack him for saying at the debate he had to have a conversation about abusive law enforcement behavior with his black son.  

‘We’ve been down this road,’ he said. ‘Tens of millions of American parents have had the very same conversation with their children that I talked about having. Tens of millions.’ 

He argued, ‘I am not surprised that that individual continues to want to divide us. I’m talking about how to overcome our past and bring us together.’  


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