PORTLAND, Ore. — Paul Ryan crossed party lines and voiced support for one of President Obama’s biggest backers today, saying, “We stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel” in his fight with Chicago’s teachers, which led the union to call the city’s first teachers’ strike in 25 years.
“If you turned on the TV this morning or sometime today, you probably saw something about the Chicago teacher’s union strike,” Ryan said at fundraiser at the Governor Hotel here. “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.”
Emanuel is not only the Democratic mayor of the third largest city, he’s also President Obama’s former chief of staff and one of his most visible supporters. Ryan went on to ask the group of about 200 donors where the president stands on the strike.
“We stand with the children and we stand with the families and the parents of Chicago because education reform, that’s a bipartisan issue,” Ryan continued. “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.”
Ryan said in a Romney administration they will “not be ambiguous.”
“We will stand with education reform, we will champion bipartisan education reforms,” Ryan said. “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.”
In Ohio today, Romney did not voice his support for the Democratic mayor of the city as Ryan did, but did say that students should have the “skills they need,” which means the end to the strike.
“I want our kids to have the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow and that means put our kids first and put the teachers union behind,” he said.
Ryan’s comments were made off camera in front of donors who paid between $1,000 and $25,000 to be there, but when asked about the strike before he took off on his campaign plane from Portland to attend more fundraisers in Seattle he declined to repeat the comments.
The candidate instead returned to the front of the plane, away from the cameras, after thanking reporters who had brought doughnuts for those taking the flight.