By Justin Sink - 06/13/12 01:27 PM EDT
Democrats have seized on a comment the Republican candidate made Friday while he was criticizing remarks made by President Obama during a White House press conference.
"He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers," Romney said. "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."
On Tuesday, Romney defended his comments during an interview with Fox News by arguing the federal government is not responsible for the hiring of teachers and first responders.
"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."
While it's true that state and local governments are responsible for paying the salaries of those public-sector employees, the federal government can help subsidize their costs through grants like those proposed by the president. But Romney argued such a plan amounted to a second stimulus, and argued lagging employment numbers validated Republican opposition to further spending.
"It didn't work the first time. It certainly wouldn't work the second time," Romney said.