The chairman of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's national steering committee on Monday defended the candidate's "wisdom" that state and local government needed to "cut back" on teachers, firefighters and police.
"Let me respond as a taxpayer, not as a representative of the Romney campaign," former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) told MSNBC's Chris Jansing. "There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population. And as the population goes down, you need fewer teachers."
"If there's movement to the suburbs, those teachers and policeman are needed somewhere," Jansing noted.
"If there's fewer kids in the classroom, the taxpayers really do want to hear that there will be fewer teachers," Sununu insisted. "Absolutely."
"I think this is a real issue and people ought to stop jumping on it as a gaffe and understand that there's wisdom in the comment," he added.
At a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, Romney had blasted President Barack Obama's call to hire more teachers, firefighters and police.
"He wants to add more to government," the former Massachusetts governor charged. "He wants another stimulus. He wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policeman, more teachers.”
“Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did! It’s time for us to cut back on government!”
But on Monday, Romney adviser Bay Buchanan said that Obama was the one to blame for job losses in the public sector.
"He says 450,000 local and government state workers have been laid off, Buchanan told CNN's Soledad O'Brien. "Why do you think they’re being laid off, Mr. President? Do you not understand when the economy is suffering, when we are having the situation we’re having today with this slow, slow, almost no growth in the country sometimes, that he is impacting? His policies are impacting what’s going on in the state and local."
“If Barack Obama could just do half the kind of job that Mitt Romney did [as governor of] Massachusetts, this country would be thriving.”
A 2009 report by the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future predicted about a third of the nation's teachers would retire by 2013, leaving drastic shortages of experienced instructors.
(h/t: Think Progress)