WASHINGTON -- GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney condemned the Chicago Teachers Union for the high-profile strike it launched Monday, accusing it of betraying the city's children.

"I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education," Romney said in a statement. "Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet."

Romney went a step further in the statement, assuming that President Barack Obama was standing with the union on the strike, even though neither the White House nor the Obama campaign has taken a position on the stoppage.

"President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you,’" Romney said. "I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that."

In a response via email, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt criticized Romney for his education policies and took a shot at the campaign for playing politics with a local dispute, though he didn't address the merits of the strike itself.

"President Obama's leadership has led to groundbreaking reforms in our schools, earning wide bipartisan cooperation and praise," LaBolt said. "In contrast, Gov. Romney has said class size isn't a problem and he would cut taxes for millionaires by gutting education funding, leading to fewer teachers. Playing political games with local disputes won't help educate our kids, nor will fewer teachers. But President Obama's plans will lift our schools and our students."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Obama's "principal concern is for the students and the families," adding that he hadn't discussed the strike with the president. "We hope that both sides are able to come together to settle this quickly and in the best interest of Chicago's students," Carney said.

The union and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, have failed to agree on a contract after weeks of negotiations, leading to the first Chicago teachers strike in a generation. Some of the main sticking points are teachers' pay, health benefits and job security under a new performance evaluation system. There were no classes in the city's public schools as of Monday morning, with the union's 26,000 members out in protest.

The union has laid out the goals for its strike here, arguing that the city needs to address class size, improve staffing levels and offer teachers better salaries.

The strike could become a headache for the Obama campaign, depending on how long it lasts. Not only does the president have strong Chicago ties, but his former chief of staff, Emanuel, is now butting heads with a labor union generally seen as an ally of Democrats.

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  • Karen Lewis

    Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, centre, tells reporters at a news conference outside the union's headquarters that the city's 25,000 public school teachers will walk the picket line Monday morning after final-day talks with the Chicago Board of Education failed to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis walks to a news conference outside the union's headquarters in Chicago to announce that the city's 25,000 public school teachers will walk the picket line Monday morning after talks with the Chicago Board of Education broke down on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • David Vitale, Karen Lewis

    Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale informs reporters at a news conference outside the Chicago Teachers Union Headquarters that final-day talks with the union failed to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Chicago. CTU President Karen Lewis subsequently announced that the city's 25,000 public school teachers will walk the picket line Monday morning for the first time in 25 years. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, right, tells reporters at a news conference outside the union's headquarters that the city's 25,000 public school teachers will walk the picket line Monday morning after final-day talks with the Chicago Board of Education failed to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Teachers and pro-teacher community groups rally in front of a building the Chicago Teachers Union has designated its strike headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 in Chicago. The union has vowed to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 if an agreement over teachers' contracts is not reached with Chicago Public Schools by Monday. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Members of the Chicago Teachers Union distribute strike signage at the Chicago Teachers Union strike headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 in Chicago. The union has vowed to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, should it fail to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts with Chicago Public Schools by that date. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Teachers respond enthusiastically to passing drivers honking their horns in support as they distribute strike signage at the Chicago Teachers Union strike headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 in Chicago. The union has vowed to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, should it fail to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts with Chicago Public Schools by that date. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Members of the Chicago Teachers Union distribute strike signage at the Chicago Teachers Union strike headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 in Chicago. The union has vowed to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, should it fail to reach an agreement over teachers' contracts with Chicago Public Schools by that date. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Members of community group Parents 4 Teachers display pro-teacher posters outside City Hall on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 in Chicago. The Chicago Teachers Union has threatened to proceed with plans to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 if weekend negotiations with Chicago Public Schools over teacher salaries and working conditions fails to deliver an acceptable outcome. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Members of community group Parents 4 Teachers display pro-teacher posters outside City Hall on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 in Chicago. The Chicago Teachers Union has threatened to proceed with plans to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 if weekend negotiations with Chicago Public Schools over teacher salaries and working conditions fails to deliver an acceptable outcome. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • TaliSol Medina

    Eight-year-old TaliSol Medina, left, a third-grader from Galileo School, puts the finishing touches on a pro-teachers poster for the Pilsen Alliance community group in front of the Chicago Teachers Union strike headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 in Chicago. The union has vowed to strike on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 if an agreement over teachers' contracts is not reached with Chicago Public Schools by Monday. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • In this Aug. 22, 2012 photo, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks at a Chicago Board of Education meeting in Chicago.

  • In this Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 photo, Vicky Kleros, principal of the Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood, just southwest of downtown, looks through files at the school. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said more than 26,000 teachers and support staff in the nation's third-largest school district don't want to strike, but are prepared to do so for the first time in 25 years. If there is a strike, Kleros said the school would be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every school day so that children still could get breakfast and lunch and participate in activities that would keep them off the streets. Later in the afternoon, the local library and park district buildings will be open - all part of a $25 million school district strike contingency plan. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • In this Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 photo, Emily Ponce, 8, a second-grader at Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, in Chicago's predominantly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood, watches her brother Jose Ponce, 13, a Perez eighth-grader, as he talks about the chance of a teachers strike. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said more than 26,000 teachers and support staff in the nation's third-largest school district don't want to strike, but are prepared to do so for the first time in 25 years. It would be the first big-city strike since Detroit teachers walked off the job for 16 days in 2006. The last Chicago teacher strike was in 1987 and lasted 19 days. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Members of the Chicago Teachers Union hold an informational picket outside Willa Cather Elementary School, calling attention to ongoing contract talks with the Board of Education on Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 in Chicago. The union says it is still trying to reach an agreement on wages, health benefits, and job security. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A student watches a Chicago Teachers Union informational picket outside Willa Cather Elementary School, calling attention to ongoing contract talks with the Board of Education on Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 in Chicago. The union says it is still trying to reach an agreement on wages, health benefits, and job security. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • In this June 6, 2012 file photo, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks to the news media after casting her ballot during a strike authorization vote at a Chicago high school. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Chicago Board Of Education President David Vitale address reporters after the board unanimously rejected an independent fact finder's recommendation to give teachers a double-digit pay raise, Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard speaks at a back-to-school initiative event in Chicago, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. At the event, Brizard said that an independent fact finder's recommendation to give teachers a double-digit pay raise would cost the district $330 million, lead to thousands of teacher layoffs and increase class sizes. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard hands a package to a student during a back-to-school initiative event in Chicago, Wednesday, July 18, 2012. At the event, Brizard said that an independent fact finder's recommendation to give teachers a double-digit pay raise would cost the district $330 million, lead to thousands of teacher layoffs and increase class sizes. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • In this Sept. 9, 2011 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard greet students as they arrive at Carl Schurz High School in Chicago.

  • In this June 6, 2012 photo, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis casts her ballot during a strike authorization vote at a Chicago high school.

  • From left, first-grader Travios Slater, fourth-grader Kiante Byrd, their grandmother Jeanette Byrd, their aunt Letitia Daniel, mother Felisha Slater, and cousin Randall Darring pose on Daniel's front porch, Friday, June 8, 2012, in Chicago.

  • In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, visits with Brandy Toliver, left, and Mariah Neyland, in their first-grade class at the CICS Washington Park School in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

  • In this Nov.16, 2011, file photo, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks at a news conference in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

  • Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn hands a pen used to sign a landmark education reform bill to the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, at a bill-signing ceremony, Monday, June 13, 2011, in Maywood, Ill. The bill makes it harder for teachers to go on strike and easier for educators to be fired. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn holds up a landmark education reform bill that makes it harder for teachers to go on strike and easier for educators to be fired at a bill-signing ceremony, Monday, June 13, 2011, in Maywood, Ill. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, speaks to teachers during a protest June 22, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Hundreds of teachers gathered to demonstrate outside the offices of the Chicago Board of Education and marched through the city's financial district protesting the board's recent decision to rescind a 4 percent annual raise promised to the teachers in their contracts. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Chicago school teachers demonstrate June 22, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Hundreds of teachers joined in the protest outside the offices of the Chicago Board of Education and marched through the city's financial district to protest the board's recent decision to rescind a 4 percent annual raise promised to the teachers in their contracts. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Chicago school teachers display protest signs from inside a school bus as they leave a demonstration outside the Chicago Board of Education building on June 22, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Hundreds of teachers demonstrated outside the board's offices and marched through the city's financial district to protest the board's recent decision to rescind a 4 percent annual raise promised to the teachers in their contracts. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (L) listens to Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard while participating in a forum about education in big cities at the Katzen Arts Center on the campus of American University March 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Calling their municipalities 'city-states,' Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported the idea of individual school districts being able to compete with states for the $4.35 billion 'Race to the Top' grant program created by President Barack Obama. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)