US teachers' union backs Clinton in 2008 race

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WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton won the backing today of the 1.4-million-member American Federation of Teachers, which praised her leadership on health care and economic issues.

The AFT's 41-member executive council voted to endorse the New York senator and promised to launch a grass-roots campaign to mobilize and build support for Clinton in the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination.

''Our members have told us that they want a leader they can trust to strengthen public education, increase access to health care, promote commonsense economic priorities and secure America's place in the world,'' AFT President Edward McElroy said. ''Hillary Clinton is that leader.'' The AFT is at least the sixth national labor union to back Clinton, who leads the Democratic field in national polls and topped all her rivals in fundraising during the last three months.

All of the Democratic contenders have pushed hard for labor support, which can provide valuable grass-roots financial and volunteer muscle for their campaigns.

REUTERS RS KP2317

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