Political barbs fly amid Chicago teachers' strike
September 10th, 2012
03:02 PM ET
2 years ago

Political barbs fly amid Chicago teachers' strike

(CNN) – Mitt Romney implicated President Barack Obama Monday in the ongoing strike of teachers in Chicago, portraying his Democratic rival as bending to powerful teachers' unions at the expense of parents and students.

Romney's statement put him in the unlikely position of supporting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat who previously served as Obama's chief of staff. Emanuel has been harshly criticized by union officials, who accuse the mayor of reneging on promises made to teachers, police officers and other civil servants.

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"I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city's public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education," Romney wrote Monday, adding that teachers unions were putting self-interest ahead of students.

Romney went on to assert that Obama "has chosen his side in this fight," pointing out that Vice President Joe Biden told a teachers' union in 2011 "you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President's commitment to you."

"I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that," Romney concluded.

Asked at a press conference Monday about Romney's statement, Emanuel said that while he "appreciated" Romney's support of teachers and students, he did not view the Republican candidate's remarks as useful.

"While I appreciate his lip service, what really counts is what we're doing here and I don't give two hoots about national comments scoring political points or trying to embarrass or whatever the president," Emanuel said.

At the White House briefing Monday, press secretary Jay Carney said Obama had yet to make an assessment on the Chicago teachers' strike, but that the president's "principle concern is for the students and his principle concern is for the students and families who are affected by the situation."

Obama's campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt took a more critical approach Monday, writing on Twitter there were "Chuckles across Chicago as Romney tries to reinvent himself as the city's biggest cheerleader after attacking it for the past year."

"Romney apparently believes that fewer teachers and larger classrooms is the solution to education challenges," LaBolt wrote in a second tweet.

The two presidential candidates have long been at odds over some aspects of education policy, with Romney claiming Obama is too concerned with placating teachers' unions, which are major sources of Democratic campaign cash, and Obama saying Romney is wrong on his position that smaller class sizes aren't necessarily advantageous to better learning.

READ MORE: Ryan sides with Emanuel on Chicago strike


Filed under: 2012 • Education • Mitt Romney
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    We know Willard "you'll do things different".

    September 10, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Ann

    There i s a difference between labor unions in the private sector and unions in the public sector. The public sector is paid for by us, the taxpayers. So...who are those teachers fighting for when they ask for more money? US! In Chicago, the average teacher gets paid over $75,000. That's a real nice payday. I support unions...but not in the public sector. Whatever you do ask for....the taxpayers have to pay it. So, in essence...you pay end up paying higher taxes so you can get paid a higher salary. That's ridiculous!

    September 10, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. tykl

    It is pretty ironic Rahm gets it from his base. He encourages unions and then they bite him. Hmm. Anybody see this coming? Yes – the R's. It is funny Rahm does a little governing and now he might be singing a little different tune. Unions bankrupted a number of cities in CA, looks like Chicago is on the same path.

    September 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. ghostriter

    Ann, the funny thing is that they aren't arguing about pay. Matter of fact, they are getting an increase. They are complaining about teacher evaluations.

    September 10, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. ghostriter

    Yeah, unions are bad. But now, they are people too.

    Thanks, republicans.

    September 10, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. fukntbaggers

    Oh yes like Nitt-Witt has a clue about real work, What's his next move- complaining that sesame street is terrible for children?.

    September 10, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. moonghaelela

    Romney's lips are moving. We all know what that means.

    September 10, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. myviewis

    What about the kids????? Aren't teachers about kids, at least that's what I keep reading. I read most of these teachers in Chicago make an average of $69,000 a year and are angry they will not be getting the 4% pay raise they had been promised and they've added an extra 1 hour to their school day. Bottom line, the city cannot afford it according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Hey, the economy is bad all around but what about those 400,000 or so kids without school?????

    September 10, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. California Gary

    Yup.......v_mag has this issue covered.......I can't top your posts on this one buddy. You nailed it.

    September 10, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. The REAL Truth...

    Wow – we have some seriously messed up right wing trolls posting today. It's worse than the six degrees of Kevin Bacon!! A little FACT checking shows that there is no possible way this strike has any relationship to the POTUS – other than it being in Chicago. It's a LOCAL issue.. how someone links that to Obama's union support is incredulous. That Willard has the brass to implicate Obama is indicative of his crappy campaign and how desperate the personal attacks from the right are becoming. It's getting really old, and I give Obama's campaign full credit for not responding in kind.
    Most of intelligent America sees Mitt the Twit for what he really is.. a man desperate for the Presidency and will do ro say anything to achieve that goal. No substance, no policies, no character, no backbone, no common sense and no chance in Nov.

    September 10, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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