Washington Post online - April 12, 2000
Buchanan Rallies Teamsters on Capitol Hill By Linda Wheeler Washington Post Staff Writer
Reform Party presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan and a half dozen members of Congress spoke at a spirited Teamsters rally near the Capitol this morning, all criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement and the proposed permanent trade agreement with China. Several thousand Teamsters are in Washington for a rally with other labor unions.
Teamsters said their rally had nothing to do with the planned protests against the World Bank and IMF, but it added to the day's events, which included a scattering of protests by the so-called Mobilization for Global Justice group.
The day started with a car fire in a World Bank annex building that prompted its evacuation and quick police response. During the day there were scattered protests but no other reported incidents. Protesters did manage to wrap a mock front page around copies of The Washington Post that appeared in newsboxes in the downtown area and in Metro stations as far out as Vienna.
At the Teamsters' rally, Buchanan, wearing a blue and gold Teamster jacket, told a cheering throng, "Too much soft money makes for too many soft heads [on Capitol Hill]. With NAFTA we were defeated and lied to. . . . The deficit with Mexico grows every year." Buchanan spoke against the backdrop of five U.S. flags that snapped in the brisk morning wind.
"If I was in the White House and the Chinese communists came to my office, I'd tell them, 'Stop threatening my country; stop persecuting the Christians or you will have sold your last pair of chopsticks,' " Buchanan continued.
Harry Wu, a Chinese worker who was imprisoned for 19 years at hard labor, got applause and cheers when he was introduced. "Here I am free; in China men and women are not free. Some people on Capitol Hill want to negotiate a deal with China. Please say no." He was greeted by loud hoots of support. Teamsters carried signs in support of Wu that showed Chinese workers being being persecuted and threatened with death.
Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, who was introduced as "America's president," closed the rally sending his members off to speak with members of Congress. "We will stand together. We have come from faraway parts of the country to stand against the China deal. We will mobilize 1.5 million members to keep jobs in this country." Eighteen-wheel trucks stood lined bumper to bumper at the foot of Capitol Hill.
Members of Congress also addressed the crowd. Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) introduced himself as a son and a grandson of Teamsters. "It is shocking that the administration, supported by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, are supporting a permanent most favored status. It is unthinkable!"