DeMint compares Chicago teachers to 'thugs'
September 14th, 2012
01:26 PM ET
6 years ago

DeMint compares Chicago teachers to 'thugs'

(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.

Filed under: 2012 • Jim DeMint • South Carolina • Values Voter Summit • Washington D.C.
soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. Joe M.

    CNN can't help but stretch the truth. Nowhere does he mention "teachers". He probably means "Teachers Unions". CNN showing its true colors again.

    September 14, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  2. Republican Mafia

    The Republicans have a long historical connection to the Mafia. Reagan was a union president and closely associated with the Mafia, who helped purchase his Presidency. Everything the Republicans do is at the bidding of hard core thugs.

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Reilleyfam

    I guess when you shut down the govt over debt ceilings you're OK, but if you're a low 5 figure teacher who just wants a living wage you're a "thug."

    The hypocrisy of this. No one strikes and is more obstructionist than the GOP.

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. v_mag

    @Scott said: "When you back the mafia (unions) you ARE a thug."
    Sheldon Adelson is a mafiosi thug who has bought Mittler's campaign with $10M donations. Romney is owned by the mafia. Romney is a thug.

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Art Leigh

    Tell my what Values the "Value Voters" have besides money?

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  6. chemistphil

    People who have real jobs can get fired if they suck... oh also, if these teachers really care about the students they would be selflessly trying to make a positive difference in their lives instead of fighting over the standards they are held to.

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. Morgan Hill

    As an ex-teacher and a friend of all teachers, I say that this man is 'OUT OF TOUCH"

    September 14, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Kris

    Oh yes "Teachers" are the Thugs???? Big Corp. have been bullied and harrassed for far too long now..right? Rock on Chicago Teachers. Jim DeMint is not exactly a moral compass. In fact, he is absolutly filthy!

    September 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. huh?

    How in the world does Ashley Killough know what the Senator meant by the remarks? Most of the time when unions are addressed, they aren't referring to the members on strike, they are referring to the members in charge.

    This is a blatant attempt to blow a remark way out of context to increase class/political warfare to increase readership. It annoys me.

    September 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. pvd

    Hmm, and how does Senator De Mint categorize the bankers whose sub-par loans and speculation in derivatives caused the 2008 financial crash from which the U.S., and, one might argue, the world is still suffering? Are they thugs? Naw, it was them thar damn teachas' got us in this mess hyar'! Them thar' bankas' are saints, dontcha' know. Just looky at da' comments hyar from da' righty trolls.

    September 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. chill

    Let me save you some time and money. A bunch of ticked off people in a foreign country over which we have no direct control decided the US was to blame for soemthing or other. They began protesting and in some cases got riled up enough to do damage (or in the case of Libya was co-opted by terrorists). And you can't do much of anything about that other than disengage and stay home. We can certainly find ways (with more spending) to beef up our security there, or encourage a bit more help from our hosts, but as to preventing people from getting upset at us, I doubt Demint or most other Americans for that matter would want us to do what it would take to soothe their feelings.

    September 14, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. Name JR

    Unsophisticated amateur with socialist beliefs and you wonder why the US is going to hell in a hand basket. Good bye America. Let these union parasites and democratic thugs ruin our once great land.

    September 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  13. lou

    . How many days are you working this session, Mr Senator? Seems you're both getting paid with my tax dollars. At least, with teachers, we get some babysitter time out of them. What have we gotten from the money we pay you?

    September 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Conservative embrace self SUFFICIENCY, not self interest."

    Actually, no. Conservative heros and "thinkers" like Ayn Rand and Bill Kristol and others quite clearly and explicitly theorize that if everyone acts in their own self-interest, then it all balances out and everyone succeeds. It's the entire keystone of the whole "free mnarket" mumbo jumbo. The real brain damage comes when they theorize that, for example, "employers will pay their employees good living salaries because it is in the employers' self-interest to have a happy, secure, productive and loyal workforce." Conservatism is truly a fascinating study in ignorance of the human mind, behavior and condition. Well, either that or it's all a big fat self-serving lie designed to promote their agenda by duping people into believing completely ridiculous batcrap nonsense. Choose.

    September 14, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. carlos

    if i had a chance i would vomit on those three and the rest of the CONS and REPUBICS, just look at their faces, nauseating and creepy.

    September 14, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. BOB

    He is right. They are much more interested in their own paychecks without accountability than the children. The truth hurts sometimes.

    September 14, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. w l jones

    Well well look like Sen. DeMent disdain the Teacher for been on strike for a month or so while they been on strike for the last three and a half years. Some nerve coming from this do nothing party. Enough said.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Michael

    I do not understand why people want to bash teachers, which are (sometines unjustifiably) responsible for guiding the intellectual development of tomorrow's leaders. Teachers, with all of that great responsibility and pressure, are underpaid and overworked. If Congress worked the hours that teachers do, perhaps we could actually get something done in this country besides all of the bickering and back stabbing. DeMint is an ULTRA MAROON. How about he forego his all-too-extravigant salary and benifits to help resolve the issue instead of fanning the flames?

    Scott – You're a P'taK and you don't have a freaking clue. Was this the first time you figured out how to copy and paste? Are you afraid your little rant wouldn't make it to CNN unless you posted and reposted ... and reposted ... and reposted the same exact message? What's wrong, Boo-Boo? Got a twitch?

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Chicago is asking teachers to work 20 percent more without a pay increase. They want to fire teachers across the board who work at "underperforming schools" – without taking into account that the most common factor of a failing school is its socio economic location. If I were a teacher in Chicago I'd go on strike too. Better yet, all of them quit and start their own private home schools and charge per student directly to parents. A lot of the "I hate public education" crowd would change their tune real quick when they feel the cost of privatized education.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. Dedicated Teacher

    This is a disgrace. They have much to offer and are willing to help you acheve your best.. This makes a teacher's job much harder to hear political leaders bashing them. Political leaders should be telling parents and students to honor and respect their teachers and give your teachers your best. This is what wll help students achieve. Political leaders so easily tell teachers and others they don't need more money when they, themselves, make a fortune an enjoy perks beyond belief. That's the real issue.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Bob

    T-Party moron

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. David

    I challenge any of you to spend a week as a teacher in a Chicago classroom.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. rdeleys

    I'll bet the people of South Carolina had to look long and hard to find a sociopath as useless and stupid as De Mint to represent them. He's an embarrassment to the entire country.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Dave

    Republicants certainly love the taste of Shoe Leather.

    September 14, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Lou

    Another Tea Party Thug who's IQ and hat size are identical.

    September 14, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
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