(CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint made an apparent joke Friday on the tense labor dispute in Chicago's public school system, using a harsh word to describe those on strike.
"You know, we have had a lot of bad news this week. On my way over, I was reading another story about a distant place where thugs had put 400,000 children out in the streets. And then I realized that was a story about the Chicago teachers strike," DeMint said, prompting laughter from the crowd at the Values Voter Summit, a social-conservative event in Washington, D.C.
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The Chicago public school system is now in its fourth day of negotiations between unions and the city led by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Class has been canceled this week for some 350,000 students.
This isn't the first time DeMint, a tea party favorite, has used the word to label unions. Last year, the senator blasted the National Labor Relations Board for "acting like a bunch of thugs" in its complaint over the move of a Boeing plant to South Carolina, a right-to-work state.
The word has also been in the news this week as protests erupted in parts of the Arab world by those offended by an anti-Islam online video. U.S. embassies were breached in Egypt and Yemen, and in Libya, four American workers, including the ambassador, were killed in an attack against a consulate.
The word "thug" was used by some pundits and lawmakers to describe those who waged the attacks. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon of California, for example, used the word in a statement on Tuesday.
"Again and again under President Obama, we have met threats and thugs with apologies and concessions," McKeon said.
DeMint's office said the senator was not trying to link the teacher strikes to the events in the Middle East.
"Any attempt to connect the senator's remarks with the terrorist attacks in the Middle East is ridiculous. There is no connection between the two," DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement. "The union bosses in Chicago are acting like thugs by using children's education as a bargaining chip. The people attacking our embassies in the Middle East are terrorists."
Following his comment Friday, DeMint took a swipe at the president.
"I have even been trying to think of what would be good about President Obama being re-elected. I had to work on it a long time but I finally came up with something. If he was elected to a second term, he could no longer blame the previous administration for all of his problems," he said.
His comments came the same day the South Carolina senator and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee–both members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee–announced they would introduce a bill calling for an investigation into the attacks on U.S. missions.
"The attacks on American embassies and diplomats are outrageous. The administration owes the American people detailed answers on how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future," DeMint said in a statement.
Sal - The wealthiest and most better off are in the North and Western states and that's because of a strong Union presence. Does anybody see the connection?
Might want to do the Google on "illinois state budget crisis" Mr. Rocket Scientist!
It is my understanding that the strike is not about money, it is about federal government control. Federal testing to evaluate kids and teachers and extremely large class sizes, partially due to the cost of complying with federal regulations. It is Irony to see the Teachers union promoting local control and Rahm Emanuel against a union. It makes more sence when you realize it is about government takeover and not about money. To follow the Government pattern of taking over industries, expect a lot more demonizing of teachers in the next few years.
Teachers are held in the highest regard in our household. They are everything to their students. Where would we be without them? Republicans just hate that they lean towards liberalism because it is the right and intelligent thing to do..always has been... always will be...
Another whining GOP member who knows his boy is getting shellacked this November. Poor babies!
C'mon, DeMint. Really? Chicago Teachers are Thugs? The GOP/TP is more and more out of touch with the mainstream by the second. Trying to appease the Base while those in the middle scratch their collective heads.
Every one of thsse teachers should be fired, collective bargaining terminated and reform initiated to be able to get rid of the deadwood. Education is about education and the success of educating, not the lining of teachers pockets with public unions essentially using public money against us by lobbying excessively and politicians following in lockstep to get their support. Where's the taxpayers representation here? That's changing in California with Prop 32. Private unions are great, public unions are rife with abuse and corruption. We should also be able to drop kick out teachers who do awful things without a negotiated pension like the guy who put his own semen on glasses and made little kids taste it. What is wrong with these public unions who support such degenerates? Disgraceful.
See, according the GOP, the more educated you are, the most likely you are to vote Democrat. They have waged a war on education for decades. Keeping Americans ignorant and uneducated is the way to keep brain washing them and instill fear. Just look at the South.
This comes from a Senator where after a day of tenure, he will be granted health care coverage for life. No corporation or union I am aware of grants life time health care benefits for simply being there a day. DeMint seems perfectly ok with this kind of socialism that benefits himself richly, but for others, then they are thugs.
yep, there's your traditional american values; name calling, demonizing others, and doing it to......teachers?????
WOW........ just when ya think the GOP can sink no lower
how was it mccrathyism ended? when someone finally stood up to him and said.. SHAME ON YOU!
Whom wud U want for your teacher a "thug" or a wimp? Glad to see that there are back-boned teachers in Chicago. That senator shud do what the empty chair at the RNC told Rmoney to do.
@truth hurts said, stupidly: "Let's start discussing how the looney left wants to control our entire life right down to the size soda we drink!"
Mayor Bloomberg is a Republican. He's behind the soda size limitation. Do you now consider Republicans to be the "looney left"?
Ahh, free speech. It allows us to say what we think, and it allows liberals to immediately spew hate speech towards anyone that doesn't agree with their group-think, give-me-everything-for-free mentality. DeMint cracked a joke – big deal, liberals have been cracking wise about anything and everything conservative for decades, supported by a biased media. Get over it and realize that no public employee deserves a 29% raise with zero accountability for results.
I see..so a good education and paying for good teachers to get one is NOT a Family Value nor an American Value. That said it all. Right or wrong, now I see the real problem. If they shut down the Department of Education folks like this village idiot seems to be in favor of..then expect to have to foot the bill for your future stupid children. Why? Because its not a VALUE.
yep, there's your traditional american values; name calling, de monizing others, and doing it to......teachers?????
how was it mccarthyism ended? when someone finally stood up to him and said.. SHA ME ON YOU!
Kinda like the 'thugs' who held U.S. Budget hostage?