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Romney criticizes Chicago teachers, sides with parents (+video)

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, said the teachers striking in Chicago aren't putting their students first.

Mitt Romney sides with parents in Chicago teacher strike
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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Monday that striking Chicago teachers are turning their backs on thousands of students and that President Barack Obama is rooting for the absent educators. Obama's top spokesman said the president has not taken sides but is urging both the teachers and the city to settle quickly.

Chicago's mayor, Obama ally Rahm Emanuel, called Romney's statement "lip service" as the contract dispute in the nation's third-largest school system inserted itself into the hard-fought presidential campaign.

Romney said he chooses to side with the parents and students, echoing his oft-repeated campaign speech claim that teachers' unions are out for themselves.

"We ought to put the kids first in this country and the teacher's union goes behind," Romney, in the Chicago area for a fundraiser, told conservative syndicated radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt in a telephone interview. "As president, I will stand up and say, look, these teachers unions are not acting in the — with the best interest of the kids in mind."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was monitoring the situation in his hometown but was not itching to get involved.

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