Rank-and-file members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave the union's president a strong hint as to who they back in the presidential race during a speech in Washington state earlier this month.

Lee Saunders was talking to the AFSCME Council 28, which represents state government employees, and describing a recent meeting he and other top union leaders had with the top Democratic candidates. When Saunders mentioned front-runner Hillary Clinton, the applause could best be described as "polite," and Saunders had to prompt the crowd to applaud for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by contrast, prompted a spontaneous and boisterous response from the crowd.

Saunders chuckled at the reaction. "Is that some kind of message? Is that some kind of message that I'm hearing?" he joked.

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