Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and state DFL chairman Ken Martin are pouncing on Mitt Romney's comments opposing more stimulus aid, claiming they show the Republican presidential candidate doesn't support teachers, police officers and firefighters.
Jumping on President Barack Obama's assertion on Friday that the "private sector's doing fine" -- a statement Obama later retreated from -- Romney said later in the day that the president was "pushing aside the private sector" in favor of more government. That includes the economic stimulus aid that has helped cash-strapped local governments pay the salaries of public employees.
"He wants another stimulus. He wants to hire more government workers," Romney said at a campaign event Friday. "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."
In those remarks, Romney referenced last Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin, which was triggered by petition signatures collected after the Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill stripping public employee unions of many public bargaining rights. Walker survived the recall.
During a Monday afternoon press call, Rybak -- a Democratic National Committee vice chairman -- and Martin continued an offensive against Romney that began over the weekend, arguing that his statements prove he's out of touch with teachers and first responders -- along with the entire middle class -- and thinks that most public employees are expendable.
"Over and over again, Mitt Romney has put .... those at the top over the middle class," Martin said.
Rybak also told reporters that in Minneapolis, where budget cuts have been severe, stimulus funds helped keep more than two dozen police officers on the street.
Romney's campaign has dismissed the notion that he doesn't value public employees, calling the Democratic response to his statement "manufactured outrage."