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GOP candidates are giving their views on the strike

Chicago Teachers who are strike their supporters showed up outside library where Gov. PQuinn came unveil 'Portrait Soldier' which is

Chicago Teachers who are on strike and their supporters showed up outside the library where Gov. Pat Quinn came to unveil "Portrait of a Soldier" which is a memorial exhibit for fallen service members in honor of the 9/11 anniversary. Curie High Schhol art teacher, Colin Ewald, made a special sign for the event. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: October 14, 2012 1:52PM



Lots of political reporters came back from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week with horror stories of grungy hotels, but I’ve been shocked to find Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to have returned with an infestation of hitch-hiking critters in his suitcase as well.

How else can one explain the strange assortment of conservative bedfellows crawling all over themselves this week to side with Emanuel in his fight with the Chicago Teachers Union?

On Tuesday, it was none other than media titan Rupert Murdoch, once known for union-busting tactics in his early days as a mere newspaper publisher, offering his attaboy to Chicago’s mayor.

“As Clinton said, three million jobs available, no skilled [workers] to fill. Three cheers for Rahm Emanuel standing up in Chicago,” tweeted Murdoch (yes, old Rupert has 320,000 Twitter followers) in reference to a line from former President Bill Clinton’s convention speech.

Yes, I can report from the picket lines the teachers have rehearsed at least three cheers invoking the mayor’s name, although not the kind Murdoch had in mind.

Later in the day, it was former New York mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani praising Emanuel in an interview on CNN.

“It seems to me he’s bargaining for exactly the right things,” Giuliani said of Emanuel. “I hope he wins. I hope he wins.”

As you’ll recall, it was Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney who got this ball rolling Monday by issuing a statement saying how “disappointed” he was with the Chicago Teachers Union’s decision to strike, as if he would have paid any notice at all to the terms if the contract had been settled.

Seizing his opportunity to embarrass President Barack Obama with a labor ruckus in his hometown, Romney took Emanuel’s side against the union without ever mentioning Chicago’s mayor by name.

“I choose to side with the parents and students,” Romney said without it apparently occurring to him that they could be on the teachers’ side, too.

But later in the day at a campaign fund-raiser in Portland, Ore., Romney’s vice presidential sidekick, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, made the GOP’s embrace of Emanuel explicit.

“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,” Ryan said. “We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

I haven’t been able to find any video, but I’m sure the Republican faithful let loose with a round of “hip, hip hooray” for Obama’s former White House chief of staff who has been forced by the strike to temporarily suspend his role of campaign fund-raiser from the super-rich for Obama’s re-election SuperPAC.

If it were me, I think all the backslapping from those guys would make me itch — like that hotel room in Charlotte (actually Rock Hill, South Carolina).

But if his new best buds from the Republican Party are getting under Emanuel’s skin, he hasn’t shown it.

For the second day in a row, Emanuel just shrugged off their attention, uninvited to his dance though they may be.

Perhaps that’s because the mayor crawled into this bed long before now when he embraced the anti-teachers union agenda put forward by certain well-financed elements of the education reform movement. He’s made himself comfortable.

There’s a bigger play here for the GOP than just trying to have a little fun at our mayor’s expense.

In his Portland appearance, Ryan had challenged Obama to publicly take sides in the Chicago school talks as well, after the president’s spokesman wisely demurred.

“On issues like this, we need to speak out and be very clear,” Ryan said. “In a Romney-Ryan administration, we will not be ambiguous.”

Do you really want a president of the United States — Republican or Democrat — sticking his nose in local labor disputes in Illinois or Wisconsin or Florida? I don’t.

When this is all done, maybe Rahm can salvage something and make up for lost time by asking Murdoch to make a big donation to Obama’s SuperPAC.



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