Rep. Tim Ryan one of nine Democrat presidential candidates who addressed NABTU Legislative Conference

Rep. Tim Ryan addresses the 2019 NABTU Legislative Conference

Nine Democrats with hopes of challenging Republican Donald Trump for president in 2020 addressed more than 3,000 union construction workers on April 10 during the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ legislative conference, including U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

The eight-term Congressman, whose district includes Youngstown, delivered an energetic speech, which contained stories about his district in the 70s mixed with recent problems like the shutdown of the General Motors plant in Lordstown. Ryan, 45, discussed a divided America and its national economy that, “has not worked for the Working Class for 40 years.”

“The American Dream, for most Americans, is on life support,” he added.

Many of the candidates talked about similar issues, such as support for organized labor, particularly pro-building trades causes, including protecting Davis Bacon, opposition to So-Called “Right to Work” initiatives and passage of a bill to fund federal infrastructure improvements.

Ryan though, was only one to address competition America faces from China and Russia. The Chinese, he said, “are cleaning our clock.”

In addition to Ryan, other Democrats who addressed the attendees included former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Sen. Warren’s remarks included remarks about the current administration’s failure to produce an infrastructure bill.

Harris discussed specific infrastructure statistics on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure: 32 percent of urban streets, 14 percent of rural roads, one million miles of water pipes, “that have been in use for 100 years or more,” and one of every nine bridges, among other needs.

A number of candidates talked about ways to bring a divided nation back together. Ryan, Booker, Warren and Harris all included goals to bring the nation together and end the rancor, divisiveness, hate and distrust pushed by the Trump administration.

“This election isn’t about one man. It’s got to be about reclaiming the idea of America,” said Booker, who also stressed the importance of inclusiveness.

“We don’t need a savior to lead the U.S. We need to all step up,” Ryan said. “We have got to grind it. Grind this thing out.”

After the nine speeches, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers General President Jim Boland said he added Ryan to his list of strong candidates, which also includes Booker and Harris.

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