– A “coronation” of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s potential presidential campaign by Democrats would hurt her chances of winning a race for the White House, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Thursday.

“Anytime anybody believes there’s going to be a coronation, that’s dangerous for the candidate,” Trumka said during a breakfast in Washington hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “That’s not good for the candidate. Because the candidate needs to be developing a grass-roots system and support around the country.”

Clinton has given multiple signs she’s inclined to run a second presidential campaign, and polls consistently show she’d be the favorite to win the Democratic Party nomination. A primary fight would help her build a nationwide campaign network before the 2016 election, said Trumka, head of the nation’s largest labor federation.

“The deeper you go, the better off that candidate is,” he said. “And I think, quite frankly, that’s precisely what she’s doing.”

Trumka said Clinton, a former U.S. senator representing New York, did “an excellent job” as President Obama’s secretary of state, a position she held from 2009 to 2013, and that she’s “very, very qualified to be president.”

He added that before the labor group makes an endorsement, he’d want to see who Clinton picks for her economic team.

“If you get the same economic team, you’re going to get the same results, and the same results aren’t good enough for working people,” he said.

Trumka said the group, a federation of labor unions representing 12.5 million workers, would look poorly on presidential contenders whose economic staff support the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed in 1993 by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

He said support for a “tax code that favors sending jobs overseas,” corporate inversions and “people who think Wall Street is the be-all and end-all” would “fly in the face” of his group’s goals.

The group was split in the Democrats’ 2008 presidential primary, endorsing Obama only after Clinton conceded. The AFL-CIO spent more than $31 million in the 2012 election, helping mostly Democrats, including Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

First Michael Brown remarks

Separately, Clinton, weighing in for the first time on the case of Michael Brown in Missouri, said Thursday that she grieves for his family and his community, and called for better than what occurred in the chaotic aftermath of his death.

Clinton’s remarks came nearly three weeks after Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot by a white police officer. She adopted a careful tone and avoided singling out any one person or entity for blame in an event that has sparked a national debate about race and the use of force by authorities.

“We can do better. We can work to rebuild the bonds of trust from the ground up,” Clinton said at an event in San Francisco.


The Washington Post contributed to this report.