With only weeks before the election, organized labor launched a huge get-out-the-vote drive Saturday in Philadelphia, sending hundreds of members to knock on doors and make the case for electing Hillary Clinton president and Democrat Katie McGinty to the U.S. Senate in her race against incumbent Republican Pat Toomey.
Hundreds of union members rallied in West Philadelphia, where they heard from McGinty, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, president Lee Saunders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, and other labor leaders.
There, and at a rally in the Northeast by members of the Service Employees International Union, accusations that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had groped, fondled, and made other unwanted sexual advances toward women over the years figured prominently.
Trump has responded that he is the victim of a political smear campaign by Democrats and allies in the media, and he has threatened to sue publications that carry his accusers' stories.
"Trump claiming victimhood takes chutzpah to a new level," said Weingarten. "Donald, I don't think you are a victim. I think you are a fraud."
Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the three million-member National Education Association, said of Trump: "He is incapable of respect for women."
McGinty went after Toomey for declining to say whether he would endorse Trump.
"How about manning up, Pat Toomey?" McGinty said.
Of Trump, she added: "This is a guy who confesses to and brags about sexual assault."
Toomey's campaign responded that McGinty would only seek to continue destructive policies promoted by her party.
"Pat Toomey has proven he will stand up to his own party for Pennsylvania families, like on gun safety, fighting corporate welfare, or ending the Wall Street bailouts once and for all," said Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong. "Katie McGinty can't name a single disagreement with her party, whether it's the reckless Iran deal or thousands in new middle-class tax hikes. She would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Washington political bosses that run her campaign."
For the moment, Clinton seems to have a comfortable lead in Pennsylvania of about 8 percentage points, but the polls have Toomey and McGinty running neck-and-neck, and turnout likely will prove decisive.
Trump has sought to battle back from the damage inflicted by allegations that he had sexually assaulted women, but each day seems to bring another accusation. And those allegations have diverted attention from Clinton's own controversies. Notably, they include her use of a private server to store classified information while she was secretary of state, ongoing questions about the probe of the matter conducted by the FBI, and derogatory remarks by Clinton allies on Catholics contained in emails released by WikiLeaks.
In California on Friday, Summer Zervos, a former participant on the Trump television show The Apprentice, said at a news conference that Trump had made unwanted advances at a hotel meeting in 2007.
A second woman, according to the Washington Post, said Trump had put his hand under her skirt in a Manhattan club.
In the Northeast, hundreds of members of the SEIU rallied in support of McGinty, Clinton, and Democrat Joe Hohenstein, who is running for state representative against Republican incumbent John Taylor. Those union members, too, fanned out after the rally to knock on doors as part of a get-out-the-vote effort.
"Trump is dangerous for his words, but Taylor and Toomey are dangerous for their actions," said office cleaner Linda Thomas. "We're out here today to make sure we have Joe Hohenstein in Harrisburg and Katie McGinty in Washington fighting for families."
Julie Blust, an SEIU spokeswoman, said the vote drive was part of the union's "weekend warriors" program in which members pitch in on weekends to encourage people to go to the polls and vote for SEIU-supported candidates.
"We represent a lot of women and they are fed up with what Trump is saying," Blust said. "The Toomey-McGinty race is neck-and-neck and that is obviously an important race to determine what is going to happen in the Senate."
A spokesman for AFSCME said late Saturday afternoon that their canvassers had contacted some 5,000 households in Philadelphia on Saturday alone.