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Romney calls suggestions he wants cut teachers, firefighters ‘completely absurd’

Holly Bailey, Yahoo News
The Ticket

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(Evan Vucci/AP)

Mitt Romney says it's "completely absurd" to suggest he wants to cut back on the number of teachers, firefighters and police officers around the country.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Romney dismissed Democratic criticism over his remarks at a campaign rally in Iowa on Friday in which he appeared to suggest the country could do without more public sector jobs.

"He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers," Romney said Friday, speaking about President Obama's efforts to expand government. "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."

The Obama campaign immediately seized on Romney's comments, releasing a video attacking the former Massachusetts governor for wanting to cut public sector jobs and being out of touch with the needs of American communities.

Asked about the Obama campaign's criticism by Fox News, Romney rejected their attacks.

"That's a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states," Romney said. "The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that's completely absurd."

But Romney's assertions weren't exactly right. While the federal government does not specifically hire firefighters, police officers and teachers, their salaries in many jurisdictions are paid largely through federal aid from Washington. Still, the Republican nominee suggested his remarks in Iowa on Friday were aimed at Obama's economic stimulus plan, not public sector workers, and he criticized Democratic suggestions of another stimulus, amid new economic concerns.

"It didn't work the first time. It certainly wouldn't work the second time," Romney told Fox News.

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