(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.
I have known Demint for 20 years from business relations. He has the most twisted philosophy I havbe ever encountered. A true Libertine. Impossible to have a debate with, plus he is the cheapest person I've ever known.
If a CEO acts in their best interest to make millions even at the expense of your typical working family they are called hero's and role-models by the GOP. If a public worker acts in their own interest they are a thug. This double standard mindset is disgusting but sadly prevalent.
Another example of right wing id*ocy. Demint should be dumped at the next election.
Please people open up your eyes and see what is really going on with these REP. Their behavior tells you alot. From Congress to comments. This is how they going to govern if in office. It up to us the people to STOP this madness.
what a horrible, vile man. Teachers are thugs?? This man doesn't have a functioning brain. Maybe we should go back and see if any of HIS teachers are still alive, though none would probably ever admit to having failed as horribly as they clearly did with this awful, awful man. Every teacher must accept failures. I hope his were able to deal with knowing what a complete jerk he is.
His idiotic comment will surly help the situation resolve quicker.
Obama and Biden have used unions as a background in hundreds of their campaign appearances. The teachers unions are some of the biggest supporters of the Democrat Party. Why is Obama and Biden not going to Chicago for a campaign appearance with their staunch union supporters? Why are they not walking the picket lines in solidarity?? Why aren't they showing their unwavering support for the unions in their fight against unjust demands of Chicago and the the children?
Oh yeah... wouldn't look too good. But please do keep sending all those forced union dues political contributions in to the Democrat Party.
The more I learn about "conservatives" and their "values" the less I want anything to do with them....
God bless our teachers.
Teachers aren't thugs. Striking union people that put their own personal self interest over that of their students and of their city are thugs. Did that clarify the matter for you lefties?
I was under the impression that the GOP embraced self-interest as the greatest virtue ever ( especially since Ayn Rand is required reading for Paul Ryan's staff). Based on that, you should be applauding them, even without the fact that armed gangs of teachers are not in evidence anywhere in Chicago. "Thugs" are Tea Party Activists with guns, threatening anyone who disagrees with them, which fits you perfectly.
Go figure a Tea Party zealot hates teachers who educate people to their lies and slander
So truth hurts......those union people that are on strike are not teachers? Do you think the people on the picket lines are paid thugs brought in for that purpose, and the real teachers are sitting home sipping on iced tea? Is that really your position on this? Come on man.......you have to know better than that!
The GREEDY Chicago teachers continue to put their own demands ahead of their students.
What a jerk. There is something wrong with him if he thought that was funny. Get him out of office...no matter what party you Re.
Thug teachers, Atheist Muslims, and tyrannical hand-outs.
Double-plus Good, Republicans.
The more I learn about conservatives the less I like– so much for conservative "values."
God bless our teachers.
DeMint is an America-hating reactionary. Why do Republicans have such deep hatred for the American way of life?
S0, are you saying Senator De mint that you were taught by "Thugs"? Sure they are alot of things going on. But wouldn't in be in your interest to know the facts before you speak?? The things politican's do to become revelant...
"Teachers aren't thugs. Striking union people that put their own personal self interest over that of their students and of their city are thugs. Did that clarify the matter for you lefties?"
Nope, sorry, not clear yet. Here, let me clarify it, since I'm fluent in "lefty" and you only speak Derpanese. According to the GOP/Teatrolls, the following is true:
1. Teachers who act in their own self-interest in order to demand fair employment practices, a reasonable living wage and decent benefits....they are all unpatriotic thugs.
Did any of you watch that Nun's speech at the Dem convention? look it up on U-tube-–Nuns on the Bus. It was amazing.
I sure as heck do not make 72,000 and I work four to five nights a week plus many weekends doing my job. Maybe you need to get your facts straight before you make a blanket statement like most politicians.
These teachers had a signed contract that was thrown in the trash. How many would be ok with that? They were told there was no money in the budget (for peasant kids)....however, there was money if the teachers agreed to work longer hours....either there is money or not. The thugs are the people who took a valid contract, threw it in the garbage, and held the teachers and students hostage....this is a lose-lose for the teachers...they will be offered something crappy and much less than what was in their contract – if they don't take it, they will be billed as thugs and greedy....They will be given just enough to keep them placated and not strike.....just like the government does with us peasants. They give us just enough to keep us from waking out of this stupor...while the top 3% take all the tax breaks and make all the money...we get just enough to keep us from protesting. Blah...sucks!
It is Sen. DeMint who has resorted to thuggery!
Remember this in November. This is how the Republican party really feels about us.
Well, if teachers are Thugs...what does that make low life self serving senators
I went through a lot of teachers' strikes when I attended Chicago public schools as a youngster. It didn't affect me at all. Graduated from an elite university, making a good living, and even served my country for four years. My father worked for the Chicago Board of Education, and we coped with him going out in sympathy with the teachers. If I ever see Jim DeMint, I'm going to kick him right in his Carolinas.