AFL-CIO to hold off on endorsement in presidential primary

CHICAGO (AP) - The AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation, will not immediately endorse any of the Democratic presidential candidates in next year's primary, The Associated Press learned Wednesday.

"It is clear that a number of the Democratic candidates have the experience and the credentials to lead our nation," a statement from the federation's executive council said. "And it is equally clear that our members support a number of the candidates - union members have told us all the candidates are impressive and they are eager to support many of them. For this reason, the AFL-CIO has decided not to proceed with a decision process that would lead to support for a single candidate at this time."

Draft copies of the statement were provided to The Associated Press. The council plans a vote and a formal announcement later in the day.

This decision means that the AFL-CIO's 55 unions are now free to endorse whoever they want. Several unions already have made plans to endorse after Labor Day.

"At a later date, the executive council will decide if the AFL-CIO should endorse a candidate for president," the statement said.

Many expected this decision following Tuesday night's presidential forum at Chicago's Soldier Field. Seven of the eight Democratic candidates appeared, and all seemed to have some support in the 17,000-person crowd made up of union members and their families.

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