In Depth

Democratic Candidates Won’t Cross Picket Lines to Debate

The Writers Guild of America strike in Hollywood and the prospect of a second strike by CBS News writers is starting to affect the presidential campaign.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards today announced he and wife Elizabeth are canceling a planned appearance next week on ABC’s “The View” because of the writers strike. Also, he, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson all said they would withdraw from CBS News’ presidential debate, scheduled for Dec. 10, if CBS newswriters go out on strike.

“As I said when I walked the WGA picket line in California last Friday, these workers are making a simple request for their fair share of the huge profits being made by multinational media corporations,” said Sen. Edwards. “I am a strong believer in collective bargaining, and I hope that in each of these disputes, management and the union are able to agree on a just settlement. But until those settlements are reached, I will stand firmly with these workers in their fight for a better life.”

Sen. Clinton noted the CBS News employees have been without a contract for 2 ½ years. “It is my hope that both sides will reach an agreement that results in a secure contract for the workers at CBS News, but let me be clear: I will honor the picket line if the workers at CBS News decide to strike.

“America’s unions are the backbone of America’s middle class, and I will always stand with America’s working men and women in the fight to ensure that they are able to earn a fair wage,” she added.

The Obama campaign said the senator would refuse to participate if news workers were striking. “If CBS News is unable to reach an agreement with its workers and they decide to strike, Barack Obama will not cross the picket line to attend the debate,” the campaign said in a statement.

A spokesman for Gov. Richardson said the governor has long supported labor and if the CBS writers are on strike, he would not cross the picket line.

“His actions when it comes to the strike are more important than what he says at the debate,” said the spokesman. He “has always focused on action and not rhetoric.”

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