Brooklyn — Labour Secretary Tom Perez, a top supporter of Democratic presidential candidate, attempted to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ appeal here before the candidates’ big debate Thursday night.
Perez has been widely speculated about as a potential vice-presidential pick for Clinton, whom he has endorsed. He attempted to cast Sanders’ proposals as pie-in-the-sky ideas.
“We are a nation of dreamers,” Perez told Business Insider. “I appreciate the idealistic vision that Senator Sanders articulates, but we are a nation of dreamers and doers and the folks I talk to who want to adjust their status — they don’t want revolutions. They want results.”
While Sanders’ campaign has worked hard to woo union workers, the labour secretary also brushed off the notion that his message was resonating with union workers.
“The overwhelming number of unions have come out for her,” Perez said, before listing off a number of unions. “SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, teachers, the building trades. CWA and the national nurses union have supported Bernie. So I guess it’s kind of 94% to 6%.”
He added: “If you look at the performance in the primaries — Iowa, she won union households by 9 or 10%. You look at state after state after state that has done exit polling on union households, Ohio being a good example. She’s winning union households pretty consistently because she’s speaking to the issues of union households.”
Perez also attempted to cast Clinton as a more well-rounded candidate than Sanders.
“I have great respect for Sen. Sanders and the message he’s communicating. At the same time, Secretary Clinton is speaking to all the issues — we are not a single issue country, and she is not a single issue candidate,” he told Business Insider.
Perez is seen as a powerful surrogate for Clinton, who Sanders often attempts to cast as cosy with Wall Street.
While he is a less high-profile figure than other potential Clinton vice-presidential picks, Perez is widely respected among progressives and union workers. He emerged as a popular figure in the Obama administration last year after negotiating a tense labour dispute between port workers and management last year. Workers groups have praised the secretary for supporting boosting wages and advocating for overtime pay.