Mitt Romney got lucky, but he also gets credit for seizing the opening. In response to the decision of Chicago teachers to strike, Romney put out this statement:
I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education.
Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that “you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.”
I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that.
That the mayor of Chicago is former Bill Clinton aide and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel only makes the matter that much more attractive for Romney. Certainly Rahm must be acting reasonably, right?
The president is trapped. He can’t dump on the union, for that is his base. He can’t openly side with the union, for fear of outraging parents. So he tries to bob and weave. The Republican National Committee is only too happy to send around video of hapless White House press secretary Jay Carney, who is left to toss out fluffy generalities and evade the issue:
Yup, voting “present” once again.
Romney should seize this issue to remind voters that Obama always sides with Big Labor against the interests of taxpayers (e.g., Wisconsin), workers (e.g., Boeing) and children (e.g., D.C. school vouchers). On this one, Romney is right on the substance and on the politics.