Neither Jay Carney nor Romney mentioned Rahm in their respective statements on the strike (Carney punted on the matter altogether, not surprisingly), but Ryan knows a political opportunity when he sees one. In a standoff between two of Obama’s biggest cronies, his former chief of staff and the unions that bankroll him, The One’s going to strain mightily to remain scrupulously neutral. Romney/Ryan’s task: Make that neutrality as uncomfortable as possible.
The only surprise, says National Journal, is that it took the campaign this long to twist the knife.
“If you turned on the TV this morning or sometime today, you probably saw something about the Chicago teacher’s union strike. I’d like to make a couple of comments about that because it does matter. I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for years. He’s a former colleague of mine. Rahm and I have not agreed on every issue or on a lot of issues, but Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“We stand with the children and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue. This does not have to divide the two parties. And so, we were going to ask, where does President Obama stand? Does he stand with his former Chief of Staff Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with the children and the parents, or does he stand with the union? On issues like this, we need to speak out and be really clear. In a Romney-Ryan administration we will not be ambiguous, we will stand with education reform, we will champion bipartisan education reforms. This is a critical linchpin to the future of our country, to our economy, to make sure that our children go to the best possible school, and that education reforms revolve around the parents and the child, not the special interest group. This is something that’s critical for all of us.”
Read Ed’s post from this morning if you missed it earlier. The optics of this strike are gruesome for Democrats: You’ve got the best paid teachers in the country, who already take home nearly $30,000 per year more on average than the average Chicago family, walking out on kids in Obama’s own hometown even though a friendly Democratic face in Rahm Emanuel is on the other side of the table. It’s an object lesson in union ruthlessness, and Rahm’s going to have no choice but to dig in lest he illustrate just what the GOP has in mind when it talks about Democrats having been captured by Big Labor. The question is how heavily this might weigh on voters. Last year, when the protests first started raging in Wisconsin, there was sympathy for PEUs. Eighteen months later, Scott Walker’s still governor, public sentiment in Wisconsin has shifted, and the national electorate’s had more time to absorb news stories about California and Greece. If this had happened two weeks ago, rest assured that it would have received ample coverage in Christie’s keynote speech at the convention. As it is, I wonder if Romney will call on him to hit the trail to hammer this issue. Time for an impromptu presser by the big guy somewhere in Chicago?
Via Reason, four and a half minutes on what every parent needs to know.