DeMint compares Chicago teachers to 'thugs'
September 14th, 2012
01:26 PM ET
2 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. KC

    Did you guys forget? It is only the tea baggers and the GOP who can complain how badly they are being mistreated. According to them only CEOs and Senators earn their money, and no one has the right to know how much they earn or how they earn it. Hence you get Mitt the Nit hiding his money and GOPers attacking teachers about their pay. DeMint is just another self-righteous "family values -code white rich, god fearing male" who thinks his stuff doesn't stink. If you want to talk about being over paid how about we start cutting Congress and CEO pay.

    September 14, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. jon Rhodes

    These millionaire politicians shouldn't lose sight of their record low popularity ratings before they start calling American teachers "thugs", who have for years and years worked for very low wages and benefits. I for one, taught in the United States for over 20 years before I finally made over $30,000. And you Senator, when is the last time you did anything for less than $30,000? In fact, when is the last time you did anything to benefit the American people?

    September 14, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. TomNPitt

    What a funny story from a guy who rules over a state with the worst education system, and the most un-insured "Free Medical-Emergency Room" patients in the country. I wonder how that relates to his no tax White Supremest background?

    September 14, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  4. NC

    Republicans are digging a hole they will not be able to climb out of for years.

    September 14, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  5. Klargar

    What a sad day when teachers and other public servants are described as the enemy and multi millionaires are jealous of people on food stamps. This is the evil face of the current GOP.

    September 14, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. 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? 

    September 14, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. JW

    You think teachers are thugs Demint, you should see what sat in front of me for 40 years in that system!

    September 14, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Kenneth Newman

    This is the kind of trash talk one would expect from a state that is still fighting the Civil War!!! Maybe the AFT should organize a travel boycott of SC. Just think how wonderful it would be if all the hotels there had 75% of their rooms empty!!!

    September 14, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. truth hurts

    >irunner - I was thinking about taking a long weekend to Myrtle Beach next spring. Now, I believe I'll go to Chicago instead.

    good choice... forget the golf clubs but bring a bullet proof vest. And you might want to up the life insurance before going!

    September 14, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. ARMYCSM

    THUGS...REPUBLICANTS takes the cake. You people are so hateful and vendicted that you cannot do anything but lie, cheat and die. You will not win the election this time nor the next time. Your party will have to change a hellah of lot just to look like the real America. just sayin

    September 14, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. rob

    DeMint is absolutely right. They're nothing but a bunch of low life thugs!

    September 14, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. carlos

    TEACHERS....POLICEMEN....FIREFIGHTERS....UNION workers, remember in november, it rhymes, doesn't it????...JUST REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER!!!

    September 14, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Cindy

    So the teachers are the THUGS HERE?? Don't think so, they are the ones who put up with the unruly kids, low-pay, budget cuts, parents who don't care, lack of school supplies, children who are special needs or need special attention, and THEY ARE THE THUGS?? PLEASE, PLEASE VOTE THIS GUY OUT!! We don't need this type of person in our government!

    September 14, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. Z

    How dare those teachers think they should be able to live a comfortable life, when all they do is teach our children???

    September 14, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. ohgran

    Since Congress works for the American people, shouldn't we vote for items such as their pension, wage, benefits, etc.? Since we don't, then CONGRESS is also a UNION. Braking up a union should start with DeMint & Company.

    September 14, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. truth hurts

    Sniffit
    "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."
    Yeah, right, and I'm the Easter Bunny's acupuncturist.
    ===============================================================================================
    More like his proctologist!

    September 14, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. widow

    Greg...last time i checked India has dead bodies washing up and dead bodies floating in the Ganges river with children playing and bathing in the water as dogs and rodents eat the bodies as they wash up..they don't have slums? the yang xi in china has no birds around it because it is soooo polluted and there government sensors all info and force feed via the media bs info...are you nuts? do you know the idea of a union was created by communism? created by the USSR.. You thinking the GOP want children to not be at the top of math and science is just as your insane idea that things in India and china are awesome...you really believe what china says? or India? you are insane!!

    September 14, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Kahuna

    What kind of "Values" is demonizing our teachers?

    September 14, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. SuperDave

    They are thugs. They hold children hostage for money. That is the definition of "thug". What I would like to hear is a teacher finally admit "I am only doing this for the money. Children and education are secondary to money and jobs for life".

    September 14, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Stephanie

    His reference was to the UNIONS, not to the teachers! Had this reporter had enough respect for himself to not change the words to be inflammatory, maybe the story would have some truth and merit, but I heard his whole comment and it is nothing attune to what this "journalist" wrote. Shame.

    September 14, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Julia

    Sniffit
    "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."

    Yeah, right, and I'm the Easter Bunny's acupuncturist.

    Sounds like a sweet gig, but sorry, you are wrong. I was there on Monday in front of CPS at Clark and Adams, then when they marched up LaSalle. My sister didn't even go back on Tuesday because the group we were hanging with were so extreme that even she didn't want to deal with them and their negativity.

    September 14, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Jim Mitchell

    Takes a thug to know one

    September 14, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Boco

    This is rich coming from a buttwipe who (along with his nutty friends) practices thuggery whenever possible. Teachers, and other public workers are fair game to push around and bend over for whatever new they have in mind. When they stand up for their rights they become thugs. Really rich!

    September 14, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. us_1776

    Ol' Demented is at it again.

    This guy is the biggest dinosaur in the GOP.

    Time to go extinct there Demint.

    .

    September 14, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. Reaganrepub2

    The Tea Party thinks that teachers are thugs for trying to negotiate the best salary and benifits for themselves, while businesses that use hardball tactics to gain the best possible position for themselves are simply doing "good business"

    September 14, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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