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Hillary Rodham Clinton has told Providence Mayor David Cicilline, her former state campaign chair, that he is barred from attending her Rhode Island appearance Sunday for fear that his presence would cause disruptive protests by the firefighters union.
Cicilline said he will stay away on Sunday, but this may cause him to question his support for the New York senator, who he has stumped for locally and in New Hampshire during that state’s presidential primary.
“It’s obviously something for me to think about very carefully, because I am very disappointed in the decision of the Clinton campaign,” Cicilline said.
He said he has not talked to anyone from the Barack Obama campaign regarding this incident.
Cicilline has been locked in a five-year contract dispute with the city’s firefighters union, Local 799 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the firefighters have repeatedly picketed the Rhode Island appearances of national political figures. In September, Cicilline was forced to resign as Clinton’s statewide campaign co-chairman and pledge not to attend her East Greenwich event when firefighters threatened to picket.
The firefighters had a picket planned for this weekend’s appearance at Rhode Island College. Local 799 President Paul Doughty said that he contacted the Clinton campaign two weeks ago to let them know the firefighters planned to picket, and said he was happy with the result.
“Absolutely. I think Hillary Clinton’s a good judge of character,” Doughty crowed.
Clinton’s Rhode Island campaign chairwoman, Christine Heenan, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday night.
The rumbling on this appearance began last week, as local Clinton backers with ties to Cicilline began lobbying the mayor not to attend the event. He said the Clinton campaign also urged him to simply settle with the firefighters so that the issue would not continue to plague her local appearances.
“I was contacted by people from the national campaign and people locally to attempt to get me to cave in to the demands of the firefighters, which I refused to do,” Cicilline said.
When Cicilline said he would do neither, he got a call Thursday from the political director of Clinton’s national campaign, Guy Cecil, who told him not to come.
Cicilline said there was no workable solution here that would allow him to attend.
“There’s no way to make this work that wouldn’t involve caving to the demands of this union,” he said.
As for Cicilline’s new plans for Sunday? There’s a fund-raiser for Providence schools that day, and Cicilline said he’s happy to attend that instead.