By Amie Parnes - 08/22/12 06:31 PM EDT
President Obama on Wednesday blasted presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney on his education policy, saying his opponent sees teachers as “nameless government bureaucrats we need to, in his words, ‘cut back’ on."
Appearing at a high school gym in Las Vegas, Obama lambasted Romney and his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for wanting to slash the number of teachers and education programs by nearly 20 percent across the country as part of their economic proposals.
The president, on a two-day trip through swing-state Nevada, called the Republican plan “foolish for our future.”
“He says we’ve got enough teachers; we don’t need any more,” Obama said. “Cutting back on teachers is the last thing we should be doing in this country. We should be hiring more teachers, especially in the areas of math and science.”
Later, Obama took it a step further. “I have a question for Gov. Romney: How many teacher’s jobs are worth another tax cut for millionaires and billionaires?”
Education, Obama said, “should not be a Democratic or a Republican issue.”
“It’s an American issue,” he said. “It’s about what’s best for our kids.”
In his speech, Obama maintained that he fought to keep teachers in the classroom, even during a down economy, helping to save the jobs of 400,000 educators. But he blamed Republicans in Congress “led by Congressman Ryan” for blocking legislation that would have helped retain additional jobs for teachers.
When the crowd began to boo at the mere mention of Republicans in Congress, Obama replied, “No, no, no, don’t boo. Vote.”
During the speech, Obama was interrupted for a few moments by a protester. The crowd reacted to the heckler by chanting, “Four More Years!”
Obama piled on. “That young man probably needed a good teacher,” he said.
Obama has hammered Romney over education policy this week.
At a speech at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday the president focused on a comment Romney made earlier this year in which he said that someone who wanted to attend college or begin a business could “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”
“That’s his plan. That’s his answer to young people who are trying to figure out to go to college and make sure they don't have a mountain of debt — shop around and borrow money from your parents," Obama said.
The president’s campaign on Wednesday also released a new television ad, saying that under Romney class sizes would increase and education budgets would be cut.
The ad features two parents, Kevin and Caroline, who charge Romney with being unable to “relate” to the challenges of providing education.
“These are all issues that really he personally cannot relate to. To be able to afford an education, to want the very best public education system for your children," says Caroline in the ad.
The commercial will air in the key swing states of Virginia and Ohio.