(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.
Teachers WANT to be held accountable, but in a fair way. Basing evaluations on standardized test scores alone is not a true evaluation of a teacher–there are so many other factors to consider. As far as striking teachers being thugs, I have not seen or heard of any violence. Labor unions are being vilified by right wingers who seem to forget that most of the benefits, health and safety protections, and labor laws we have today were brought to us by the work of early unions.
Thugs, yeah for sure a republican. I work for the 26th largest school district in the U.S. and I wish we would stand up like they are. But the "Thugs" comment doesn't bother me anymore than any other sill Tea Party republican that needs to be booted out of office. Remember, words don't hurt you, you let them. HUGS FOR THUGS!
Liberal trolls are out on this site.
Unions have out lived their usefulness. Right to work without joining the union is everyones right.
Remember, Hitler hated unions, too!
This POS republican should be dispatched as soon as possible!
You know Senator DeMint, we have had a lot of bad news this week. I was driving to work this morning and the radio announcer began telling a story about corruption, indifference and overall lack of accountability of elected officials in some third world country that misled and pathetically represented those who had voted them into office. And then I realized the story was about the pigs (no offense to pigs meant), we have elected and put into office right here in America.
Yes, Senator you are a real WINNER and HERO to all those teachers who probably voted for you!
There we are AT THE BOTTOM, FIGHTING Change.
#14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills,
#17th for science
#25th for mathematics.
#37 in HEALTH CARE (yes, ACA needed)
#42nd in life expectancy
#16 College grads (these boards are often a good rep f that)
#9 in Obesity (with 74.1% of those over 15 years old considered overweight.)
He's obviously not D' Man – he's just DeMint.
HE'S RIGHT ON THE MONEY
No surprise. Stand up for decent working conditions, decent wages, etc.. for a vitally important job that requires higher education and is incredibly tough, and you are somehow a terrible terrible thug.
What a hateful thugs are rebublicans
Resorting to name-calling only shows everyone your character or lack of to everyone. If you can't make a point without calling someone names that you don't agree with, you aren't worth being a representative for those people.
I was thinking about taking a long weekend to Myrtle Beach next spring. Now, I believe I'll go to Chicago instead.
How did this m*ron get elected? I guess the "Thugs" will have to Vote him out of office before he gets a chance to collect his Congressional retirement that those "Thugs" will have to pay for out of their Tax money.
Since WHEN has a republican EVER been a conservative????
The teachers unions are run by a bunch of thugs who care about nothing but lining their pockets. They care nothing about whether children are actually educated or not.
Democrat = Thug
The terms are interchangeable.
He (and the rest of the GOP) are hoping they will turn into Lacky's. If he gets re-elected after this, it will be a vary sad commentary about the apathy of the American voting public. Bring back the coliseum so we can feed them to the lions.
Just so it's clear to anyone out there standing up for themselves to earn a better living, if you do that, you are a thug according to the DeMint and his Dementor GOP cronies. Thugs? Really? Now I don't know all that much about what the issues are in Chicago and certainly the City has to be fiscally prudent in what they agree to. Maybe the teachers are asking for too much. I don't know and I doubt that DeMint has any idea either. But if you work for a living and aren't in management and ask for better pay and working conditions, then you are a thug to the GOP. And we all had teachers at some point in our lives and I'm sure that's just how you think of them too, right? No?
Republican politicians are in good company in their hatred of unions-the People's Republic of China, Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union, etc. Meanwhile on planet earth every developed democracy, almost all of which have higher standards of living than the United States, let alone South Carolina, have well established labor union movements.
As a Chicagoland parent, a sister of a Chicago striking teacher, and a registered Democrat, I totally agree with DeMint. Let's not forget; this union voted down a proposal from a strongly liberal mayor. That should tell you everything.
Speaking of thugs Wall Street bankers and their lackeys come to mind.
ANYONE WHO WOULD CALL TEACHERS "THUGS" NEEDS TO LOOK IN A MIRROR!!!.......YOU WOULDN'T BE WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW WITHOUT THE PATIENT WORK OF SOME TEACHER MANY,MANY YEARS AGO!....OF COURSE IT'S DIFFICULT TO TEACH CHARACTER.........SO I GUESS YOU MISSED THAT ONE!!!!!!
Didn't see him offer to have his salary and perks given back to where it was when the teachers had their last contract.
I had enough exposure to public school teachers in my youth not to feel any sympathy for them now.
I am celebrating the liberation of 400,000 children, however temporary, from the clutches of the state's lackeys.
I can't understand why south carollinians keep electing demented people like senator demint I hope they open their closed tea party or repub ideology of the past century.