For anyone who didn't know how big a deal Wednesday's event was for Howard Dean's candidacy, campaign manager Joe Trippi's attire said it all: he wore a suit.
Donned in a brown suit, blue shirt, and gold tie, Trippi even appeared to have combed his hair. He was practically in disguise standing in the back of the room at the Mayflower Hotel watching his candidate receive two major union endorsements.
SEIU President Andy Stern and AFSCME President Gerald McEntee both announced their union's endorsement for the former Vermont governor Wednesday. "We will work like hell to make him our nominee," McEntee said.
Joining Stern and McEntee on stage was International Union of Painters and Allied Trades President James Williams. Together, the three union leader represent more than three million members.
The unions appeared together in an impressive display of force and cooperation, but the shared stage led members of the traveling press to wonder whose jacket Gov. Dean would wear. At last week's SEIU "non-announcement," he wore an SEIU jacket with his name stitched on the side. He's also already worn a Painters Union jacket at major photo ops in the past.
The smart money was on an AFSCME jacket for Wednesday's announcement, but Dean surprised everyone by wearing a green AFSCME t-shirt and a purple SEIU fleece jacket. To be sure not to leave out the Army of Black and Gold, Dean placed a helmet from the Painters Union prominently on the front of the podium from which he spoke.
"Don't you think black and purple and green just look great!" Dean said to the packed room.
In the back, behind a row of more than 15 television cameras, with a bottle of Diet Pepsi sticking out of his suit jacket pocket, Joe Trippi clapped in agreement.
By Eric Salzman