This is the ad Barack Obama’s campaign is now running off Mitt Romney’s Friday gaffe about Obama wanting “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” It introduces Romney’s record in the public sector as Massachusetts governor.
“During Gov. Romney’s tenure, local government was cut dramatically,” says Rob Dolan, the mayor of Melrose, Mass., in the ad. “We lost police, firefighters, teachers at rapid rates — people that directly impacted the lives of every citizen.”
Here’s what Romney said Friday:
“He wants another stimulus, 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.”
Just three different public-sector professions — any three different public sector professions — and Mitt Romney would have been completely on-message and void of any political repercussions. He could have hit Obama especially hard on the “doing fine” gaffe.
Instead, Romney has gotten himself into a world of potential political trouble. He has the Republican all-star governor, Scott Walker, clean-breaking with him on the issue and disagreeing on what the “message of Wisconsin” and Walker’s recall victory actually was.
“The big issue is that the private sector still needs more help,” Walker said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer. “The answer’s 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.”
Romney also has surrogates like former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu saying things like, “There is wisdom in the comment.” Of course, he prefaced his statement by saying he was responding as a “taxpayer, not a representative of the Romney campaign, so that will probably make everything OK.
The facts are that firefighters and police aren’t even a subject Walker would touch in his controversial law that spawned the Wisconsin recall election last week. Walker exempted police officers, firefighters and the Wisconsin State Patrol from the law.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes today that protecting the aid of teachers and first responders is wildly popular with the American public. He points to two polls, both of which find that more than 70 per cent of Americans favoured some variation of aiding state and local governments to hire or prevent the layoffs of firefighters, teachers and police.
Not only does this put Romney in a compromising political position in the race, it could also give Obama a chance to build momentum for his jobs bill, which has gotten little buzz since he introduced it last September. A big part of that bill is Obama’s assertion that it would prevent the layoffs of nearly 400,000 teachers, firefighters and police. His campaign is already pushing it, in fact:
“While President Obama has a plan to create 1 million jobs, Mitt Romney is proposing cutbacks of jobs for police officers, firefighters, and teachers—the same plan he enforced in Massachusetts.”
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