Seventeen days before the Nov. 6 election, U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and Fourth Congressional District candidate Joe Kennedy III praised union workers' role in shaping America.
Warren and Kennedy were among the speakers during an hour-long rally Saturday at Hopkinton's New England Laborers Training Center.
"America's unions built America's middle class. The middle class is in trouble, and America's unions are going to rebuild America," Warren said.
New England Laborers Training Center Administrator Joseph Bonfiglio called the rally "a very special event for us."
"We're in a difficult time. The people that are here are all our friends," he said.
State Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) said she was "very proud that the laborers are here in Hopkinton, one of the jewels of the whole district."
"The laborers are always there for us," she said.
Kennedy told Bonfiglio that "you and your workers embody what the middle class is supposed to be all about."
"I am so grateful to be able to stand with you over the course of this campaign," Kennedy said.
Kennedy noted that Warren was "my law school professor," and she called on him during the first day of class.
"She made it very, very clear that I was never to come to class unprepared," he recalled.
"She pushed her classes because she wanted every single student to reach their highest potential. She challenged us to do better because she believed we could do better."
Kennedy also praised former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), calling him "a true American hero."
"He is a man who has literally embodied what service and sacrifice mean," Kennedy said.
Cleland said a photo of "Bobby Kennedy greeting students, taking time out for them" at "my little college" was among his inspirations.
"Bobby Kennedy, at that moment, was known around the world for helping JFK through the Cuban Missile Crisis," Cleland said.
Cleland said he was inspired to participate in his college's Washington semester program.
He later served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, and later was elected to the U.S. Senate. There, he and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) "became fast friends," Cleland said.
"For Joe Kennedy to stand on this stage and say that I was an inspiration to him is really, quite frankly, unbelievable," Cleland said.
"If this election was just about sending another Kennedy from Massachusetts to the Congress, that would be history making in and of itself. But my understanding of where America is today is that we need the compassion and the passion, the insight, the history of Joe Kennedy to come to Washington and be part of the national discussion about where this country goes."
In addition, "you have a chance to make history again, by electing the first woman as U.S. senator" from Massachusetts, Cleland said.
Warren said "a lot of my values come from my three brothers," all of whom served in the military.
"Our military families, our vets, have laid it on the line for us," she said.
"We have a solemn, moral obligation as a country to lay it on the line for them."