(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.
They are thugs! He's right
As soon as I saw the headline, I was 100% sure it was a Republican. Not one bit of doubt.
T party – Treason without reason.
He should perhaps remember that there may by enough of those "thugs" to vote him out of office.
The American people are going to send the Tea Buggers to the dung pile where they belong. November 6, 2012... the day the Tea Buggers get exterminated.
All I can say about this "character" is he is pathetic. Another politician who cares only for his interests. He needs to be "fired". Have I been sleeping for years or what – where did all of the "crazy" GOP politicians come from. Almost like a Jim Jones cult. Don't drinkt he Kool Aid.
>The Real Tom Paine - I was under the impression that the GOP embraced self-interest as the greatest virtue ever
Wow... pretty uneducated there Tommy. Conservative embrace self SUFFICIENCY, not self interest. Self interest is the entire basis of the leftist/union approach. You see it in Chicago. How much can they take, take, take. A 16% increase over the next 4 years???!! But the BIG problem they have is being held accountable and removing bad teachers. That is whta they are striking over. Their benefits and agreed to increases are not the issue. They are striking to keep BAD TEACHERS on the job.
"Chicago teachers are terrorizing their students parents."
The head of the American Taliban speaks.
Thug? That's code for the N word.
Amazing, isn't it, how dependable conservatives are. You can ALWAYS count on them to begin making stupid, partisan, incendiary, hypocritical remarks whenever a situation like this arises. By the way... conservative "jokes" and "humor"? Hopelessly LAME. They shouldn't bother.
Like his nominee for president, he shoots his mouth off, then thinks about it ... whoops ... that's giving the both of them too much credit ... they just shoot their mouths off ...
if the shoe fits....
I have lived in SC all my life I am a proud liberal democrat. Yes you can call me a liberal it is a badge of honor.
I would like to apologize to teachers all over the country for his statement. It was unprofessional and wrong
Jim Demint is typical of the republican party in this country.
He is rich, He is white and he has never done anything for the state of SC or this country
that didn't benefit him financially.
He needs to take a look at the latest polls in SC which shows this state only leaning Romney
Republicans need to look into a mirror to see who the true thugs are.
Conservatives' mantra is "self interest". The Ayn Rand creed all reactionaries worship.
another i d i o t Senator's term should be limited to 1 year in office
Well, now all the teachers are voting for Obama, how many other groups can the Repubs spit on before the election? This may turn out to be the most lop-sided election in history.
Time to sweep the unhinged GOBP tea potty out of the government that they hate so much. Obama/Biden 2012!
When the DNC runs a little short on cash for campaign ads, all they have to do is stick a microphone inf front of Jim DeMint.
the senator from south carolina should shut up because his states is at the bottom of everything,the good old boys from
south carolina can do nothing but hire family member and spread hate. just all bad, bad and more bad.
Values Voter Summit. More like Values Vomit.
just another Republican without any class or shame
Some "values" those "values voters" have. Sounds to me like they've been bought and paid for, and I expect they came very cheap.
American society as a whole do not learn to respect anybody or anything. In other cultures, it would be unthinkable to namecall a teacher. Their place in life is next to parents. But what would you expect from a tea-party follower whose entire base is made of hatred and racism. Republicans only understant profit, guns and how to exploit religions for votes!