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Daniels continues Romney’s attack on teachers, first responders with divisive comments

Indiana Gov. takes page out of Scott Walker’s ‘divide and conquer’ playbook for political gain


WASHINGTON - June 10, 2012 -

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s disdainful comments on Friday about needing fewer teachers, police officers and firefighters showed how out of touch he is with middle class America. Appearing today on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a high-profile Romney campaign supporter and potential candidate for vice president, continued the attack on working families when he called for the elimination of unions for teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"Mitch Daniels is wrong. America isn’t better off when teachers can’t advocate for their students or first-responders can’t negotiate for better training and more safety equipment—which could mean the difference between life and death," said NEA President Van Roekel, who also appeared on the morning news program. "These divisive and politically motivated tactics Gov. Daniels is pushing to help the Romney campaign are disrespectful and demeaning to the people who teach our children, protect our communities and run into burning buildings to save lives."

Under Daniels’ leadership, Indiana’s poverty rate ballooned to 16.3 percent in 2010—a three-decade high that is more than a full percentage point above the national average. In 2008, before Obama took office and a full three years into Daniels’ first term as governor, five Indiana cities had poverty rates of at least 20 percent. Indeed, Daniels’ criticism of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ignores the 64,000 Indiana jobs it had saved as of March 2010.

"Once again, we see how Daniels is putting politics above people, and these comments counter the needs of middle class America," added Van Roekel. "We call on Romney to condemn the disdainful comments made by Daniels, a Romney supporter, about our hardworking public servants. Instead of attacking teachers, police officers and firefighters, we should respect them."

Taking a page out of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s playbook of "divide and conquer" politics, Daniels said he wants to get rid of unions for public employee like teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"As we saw in Wisconsin, it was never about the money. The reason they went after public sector unions and left some private sector alone is to try to drive a wedge between people," said Van Roekel. "We need to turn the page of these divisive tactics and instead look for ways to work together to get the economy moving again and lift up middle class families."

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

 

CONTACT:  Miguel Gonzalez, (202) 491-5932 cell, mgonzalez@nea.org, Staci Maiers, (202) 270-5333 cell, smaiers@nea.org