(WASHINGTON) — The Obama campaign is redoubling its attack on Mitt Romney for comments he made last Friday about firefighters, cops and teachers, with a new Web video casting the former governor as “too extreme, even for Tea Party Governor Scott Walker.”
They have seized on comments made on Monday by Romney surrogate and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, who in an interview on MSNBC defended Romney’s suggestion that the ranks of those public sector workers could be trimmed.
“If there’s fewer kids in the classroom, the taxpayers really do want to hear that there will be fewer teachers, absolutely,” Sununu said when asked about cuts. “And people ought to stop jumping on it as a gaffe and understand there’s wisdom in the comment.”
Romney critiqued Obama last Friday during a campaign stop in Iowa, saying, “[The president] says he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Democrats have been hammering Romney for suggesting that the country does not need more teachers or first responders on the job.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who survived a recall vote last week, told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that the message of his election was not exactly what Romney seemed to suggest.
“Do you think Governor Romney is talking about getting rid of more teachers and firemen?” asked anchor Bob Schieffer.
“No,” Walker said, adding, “I think, in the end, the big issue is that the private sector still needs more help, and the answer is not more big government. I know, in my state, our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That’s not what I think of when I think of big government.”
“I think of the bigger sense is more government regulations, more stimulus, more things that take money out of the private sector and put it in the hands of the government,” he said. “That’s not the answer out there.”
Walker’s comment about Wisconsin’s exemption of firefighters, cops and teachers from cuts is featured in the new Obama Web ad.
The Romney campaign says it believes that federal aid to states for public sector hiring, which Obama advocates, is not a prescription for sustainable job creation and that expanding the ranks of government inhibits growth.
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN