(Waterloo, IA) Vice President Al Gore courted about 200 members of the AFL/CIO, who are attending the union’s state convention in Waterloo, but offered no new campaign promises.

During remarks Thursday, Gore renewed his call for an increase in the minimum wage.

“Let me just tell you, I strongly support another dollar an hour increase in the minimum wage right now, over the next two years and the Republicans are against it,” Gore said, to applause.

Gore was the second presidential candidate to address the Iowa union convention. Competitor Bill Bradley spoke to the group Wednesday, offering a series of proposals, including a ban on hiring replacement workers when a union is on strike.

Gore’s support of the North American Free Trade Agreement prompted some union members to directly question his support of unions. NAFTA, according to many unions, is hastening the decline of America’s industrial sector and accelerating the loss of U.S. jobs to new factories in other countries where workers are paid less. On Thursday,

Gore reminded the AFL/CIO members of President Clinton’s rejection of other anti-union proposals advanced by the Republican-led Congress.

“If they pass another one, he’ll veto them again,” Gore said. “If they try it after 2000, I’ll veto it and keep them from doing that.”

The biggest response from the crowd came when Gore commented on this past Saturday’s Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll, which presidential candidate George W. Bush won with 31 percent of the vote.

“Wasn’t that a bunch over there?” Gore asked, as the crowd laughed. “I’m telling you, all that commotion and fuss just so they can get a jump on picking the person who’ll come in second in November of 2000.”