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SEIU Announces Endorsement of Obama in 2012

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- To nobody's surprise, the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has announced its endorsement of President Obama in the 2012 general election. The announcement came from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, in a conference call to reporters.

“We believe in a country that invests in good jobs here at home, where everyone pays their fair share,” Henry said. “Do we want leaders who side with the needs of rich corporations and the 1 percent, where they are prospering at the expense of everyone else? Or do we want leaders who will side with the rest of us, the 99 percent?" said Henry, echoing some of the talking points of the Occupy movement, which SEIU has backed.

SEIU had endorsed Obama for president in 2008 -- and its members' trademark purple shirts and signs have been a constant fixture around Obama since -- but the group's endorsement comes much earlier in this election cycle than in the previous one. The last time around the union waited until February 2008 to endorse their chosen candidate. In 2008, Obama was competing with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton for the nomination.

With Election Day more than 11 months away, the organization is getting a head start at mobilizing voters on behalf of Obama’s re-election campaign.

The SEIU plans to employ a variety of tactics to get out the vote. It is launching an education campaign to deflect blame on the country's economic situation away from Obama, or as Henry put it, to explain to both members and non-members of the organization “who broke this economy."

The group also plans to increase outreach to Latino and African-American voters, and hopes to combat some of the various election laws that have introduced new voter registration and identification requirements in several states which proponents say will combat voter fraud and which Democrats fear could hurt voter turnout.

The union is also expected to contribute financially to the Obama reelection effort. According to Federal Election Commission filings, in 2008 the SEIU’s PAC gave over $26 million in support of Obama’s presidential campaign.

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