Political barbs fly amid Chicago teachers' strike
September 10th, 2012
03:02 PM ET
6 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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,"
    Umm, in case you were being your usual obtuse, disconnected, alexithymic self that slam-dunk was for YOU Robmey.

    Additionally, MIttens, STOP trying to put words or positions in the President's mouth by lying. The President has NOT stated his position on this issue. When he does he'll communicate his stance without your convoluted and malicious interference or interpretation of same.

    September 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. NinetyNinePercent

    Mitt said he will only support the side that will get him more votes. The problem is, he never knows which side will get him more votes.

    September 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Maybe Mitt would like to show off his "negotiation" skills and offer to help bring this to an end - you know, give America a chance to see him in action - instead of simply criticising and whining over what is actually a local matter?

    September 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Dan B

    What is the need for the teacher's union now. I know some teachers that should NOT be teaching, and the schools can't afford to go to court. Isn't there a way to give teachers rights without a union.

    September 10, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Never Say Never

    Who needs Ohio? There is more than one way to 270.

    In a stunning display of his "never give up" philosophy, Mitt Romney makes a move to close the 20-point gap in Illinois.

    September 10, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Dan B

    Obama will be happy until Nov 6

    September 10, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    Wow, truthhurts, maybe you should thank a union teacher for helping you learn to read: its a pity they could not do anything about developing your sense of irony.

    September 10, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Right Wing Nut

    ROMNEY/ RYAN 2012

    "Wiping Out the Middle Class, ONE FAMILY AT A TIME"

    September 10, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Right Wing Nut

    ROMNEY/ RYAN 2012

    "Because the Rich are too Poor."

    September 10, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. CJ3B


    September 10, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Big Al

    God forbid if Romney or anyone make comments about the teachers' union, the out-of-hand homicide rate, the high unemployment rate, the rampant African American abortion rate, and the poverty rate in Chicago. We should all apply the domcrats policy: "Benign Neglect." Ignore the problems and hope they somehow go away. Romney makes a comment and the democrats satirize and ridicule it.

    September 10, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    @v_mag, god bless you, with 100 years of good life.

    September 10, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. truth hurts

    >The Real Tom Paine - Its a local matter

    oh really??? then why do these unions funnel hundreds of millions to the democrats at the national level. union corruption and bankrupting of our cities, states and federal government is a national issue. And the democrat party and obama is owned hook, line and sinker by these corrupt unions.

    come on lefties!!! where is all that union support now?!! i expect to see obama and biden out on those picket lines pronto!

    September 10, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If it was up to the right wingnuts, local communities would not have control over their school systems. Why do right wingnuts want a government agent in women's bedrooms and the federal government running public schools, all in the name of small government?

    September 10, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Romney should learn to keep his mouth shut, because he makes the dumbest uninformed statements.

    September 10, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. zadoc

    Want a good education system? Pay teachers professional wages.

    POLL: Do you support the Chicago Teachers?
    Vote here: http://bit.ly/CTUvote

    September 10, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. rob

    President Lead from behind's press secretary said "press secretary Jay Carney said Obama had yet to make an assessment on the Chicago teachers' strike" What assesment is their to make? He won't come out and critisize any Unions because thats where his big money comes from. Look at the last paragraph of Liptak's peice...Romney claims "Obama is too concerned with placating teachers' unions, who are major sources of Democratic campaign cash...." THAT IS THE PROBLEM (Liptak did not say it was wrong in the peice). Unions don't teach the children, they pay Democrats to get elected and then negotiate with them for more $ than the local and state govt's can possibly pay for.

    For decades the teachers unions and the Dems have told us that all we need to do is spend more and more and we did. LOOK AT THE RESULTS !!! Our kids are less educated and therefore unable to compete for the jobs that are there. Its time to try something different.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    September 10, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Mitt Romney must be on his own "sugar high", he's bouncing from one thing to another and nothing is sticking to the wall, next Mitt will blame Obama for picking Paul Ryan as his VP running mate.

    September 10, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. lou

    Romney was in Iowa City Friday, and the paper quoted some union train workers that went to see him, saying they were waiting to hear where he stood on unions. Most were republicans but said it was a deal breaker for them. The guy they quoted said he could lose hundreds of thousands of votes in iowa alone, so Romney might not want to bad mouth unions right now.

    September 10, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Dave in Arizona

    There's one thing and one thing alone he's suggesting by going against the unionization of teachers: that if they didn't have that protection, he'd see them fired.

    Because firing them would be better for the students and parents, right Twit?

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

    truth hurts, I would think it a good thing that no group has blanket support of democrats. If there is something that unions are doing that is not right, democrats shouldn't support them.

    Unlike republicans who blindly supports anyone who screams "I hate Obama" loudly enough.

    September 10, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. just sayin

    looks like ol' Rahmbo may have bit off more than he can chew. more people being murdered in chicago than die in afghanistan and now his union owners acting up and striking. who did he think he was? the messiah? come on Rahmbo, just go after all those evil rich chicago people. they'll have no trouble sendigm all their money to your union buddies!

    September 10, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. Nice pivot - now can you answer the question?

    Interesting line to draw – being FOR parents & students and AGAINST teachers.

    Very often the parents and students side with the teachers, against interest groups of people who don't have children in the public school system.

    September 10, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. California Gary

    Mitt never misses a chance to bash a union.....even if he has to swallow hard and pretend to be concerned about Chicago. Getting rid of all the unions is a key component in his economic strategy. If he rids the country of unions, then gets rid of the minimum wage, he and his corporate buddies can create a bunch of new jobs – all providing an unliveable wage of course, with no benefits. That would eliminate the middle class and create a society of the wealthy few and and the poor working class who work 2 or 3 jobs just to survive. Just the way Mitt would like it. GOP heaven!

    September 10, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. obama victim

    if either of these bozoz really want to help education....destroy teacher unions

    September 10, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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