Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” at the tail-end of an interview two union leaders, Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and United Association president Mark McManus, host Chris Matthews admitted there were parts of the President Donald Trump agenda he agreed with, which was his infrastructure pledge and the anti-war push, despite having not supported him in the presidential election.
Partial transcript as follows:
MATTHEWS: Well, joining me now are two union leaders who were at that meeting with President Trump.
Terry O`Sullivan is president of the Laborers International Union of North America. And Mark McManus — you notice the sort of tribal connection here — is president of the Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders and Service Techs.
Gentlemen, thank you for coming on.
TERRY O`SULLIVAN, PRESIDENT, LABORERS INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA: Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Are you guys happy?
I will start with you, Terry.
Are you happy that Trump at least is talking the talk about infrastructure jobs, real high-paying jobs, real paying jobs?
O`SULLIVAN: Absolutely. Here is what was impressive, Chris.
He gets inaugurated on Friday. Monday, the building trades had a meeting with the president, the vice president and all of his key staff. And that meeting was based on a whole host of things. But infrastructure was the main tenet of that.
And so we talked about infrastructure and we talked about good-paying, family-supporting jobs. So, we were more than encouraged by the meeting. The president`s a builder. We`re builders.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, Mark, is he talking about government doing this? Highways are government business. Bridges are government business. Airport, to some extent, are too. Trains station certainly are. Rail is.
Is he talking about the government laying down some money to create jobs, or is he talking about some kind of tax breaks for corporations?
MARK MCMANUS, PRESIDENT, UNITED ASSOCIATION: He is talking about the government laying down money and equity on it.
He`s also talking public-private partnerships. We come to the table as well with some of our pension funds and investment vehicles, J for Jobs, Ullico, infrastructure, different funds that we can be partnerships that we do traditionally well with our members` return on investments as well. So, there was a bit of a discussion on that.
Tax breaks wasn`t in the discussion. But it`s all of the above. And we`re for it. I`m more than encouraged for my members.
MATTHEWS: I know it`s rare in this city of Washington to see a deal made. Is this something? Schumer is talking about a trillion dollars now. Do you think they can get together to do something, both sides?
O`SULLIVAN: We certainly hope.
Chris, it`s always been a bipartisan issue.
MATTHEWS: Highways have always been.
And there`s no reason why it can`t be this time as well. At the end of the day, I think what is encouraging is our conversation with the president and his plan to have a massive infrastructure spending, and the Democrats in the Senate talking about it as well.
So, it`s on the front burner. We`re encouraged by that and we look forward to working with everybody to make it a reality.
MATTHEWS: Mark, I have said this 2,000 times on this show. It`s the problem of nothing getting done.
MATTHEWS: The Republicans are trusted to spend the money, but they won`t do it.
MATTHEWS: They`re tight-fisted.
Democrats want to spend the money, but they are not trusted to spend it, because they think they will blow it away somewhere on just a lot of whatever.
MCMANUS: So, we have the wild card now.
MCMANUS: Mr. Trump. President Trump is the…
MATTHEWS: Can he bring them together and get the people that don`t like to spend to spend and the people that do spend, spend it so it doesn`t get wasted, it goes into real jobs?
MCMANUS: I think we`re in peril if we`re underestimating, and I think we`re in peril if we`re predicting what Mr. Trump, President Trump, can do.
I do have optimism coming out of that meeting, talking with Senator Schumer and talking with the White House staff. There`s a deal to be made. And it`s good for the country. And I think the good leadership in Senator Schumer and the good leadership of the president of the United States, he wants to get off on the right start.
I do think there`s a deal, and I`m optimistic about the deal. In this town, I`m optimistic about the deal.
MATTHEWS: He said something today, I know it`s going to grab people, not just pipeline, not just Keystone and Dakota.
But when he started talking about making it with American pipe, I think guys, people are going to like that. That`s my hunch.
MATTHEWS: Our steel.
O`SULLIVAN: This was a big day. Less than 24 hours ago, we were in the Roosevelt Room and the Oval room, Mark, myself and some other labor leaders talking about these very issues. And in less than 24 hours, there`s five executive orders that are going to make a difference in our economy, our country and in the lives of men and women we represent.
MCMANUS: And, Chris, you`re going to love this part about it. He asked to bring in plumber in, a steamfitter in that I represent, a pipe coverer in, a sheet metal worker in.
He wanted some rank-and-file guys that had tools in their hands. They had jeans on. They came halfway across town. They were working in the morning, broke for lunch and came over, and he talked to them. He talked to everybody.
There`s a respect there at least, good first step, good first step.
MATTHEWS: I hope you guys stay in touch with us. Come on once in a while and tell us, because that`s one thing I think.
I didn`t vote for the guy, the big secret here. But I tell you I did like the infrastructure stuff. And I like the going against stupid wars part, too. I like that other part.
There`s a couple of things about Trump that I liked from the beginning, anyway.
But thank you. This is the big part.
Terry O`Sullivan and Mark McManus, thank you both. Peace in Northern Ireland.
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