- Sean Gallup / Getty Images Staff
Brooklyn – Labor Secretary Tom Perez, a top supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, attempted to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ appeal here before the candidates’ big debate on 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 Sen. 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 labor secretary also brushed off the notion that his message was resonating with them.
“The overwhelming number of unions have come out for her,” Perez said, before listing off a number of them. “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%.”
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 forSen. Sandersand the message he’s communicating. At the same time,Secretary Clintonis 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, whom Sanders often attempts to cast as cozy 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 labor dispute between port workers and management. Workers groups have praised the secretary for supporting boosting wages and advocating for overtime pay.