WASHINGTON -- Days after he declared that he wants to put "more teachers" in schools, Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama's plan to do just that.
The Republican presidential nominee didn't technically contradict his comments, made during the first presidential debate last week, in his interview with The Des Moines Register. But he did cast a proposal to hire more teachers as a waste of taxpayer money.
From the debate in Denver:
Well, first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the key to great schools, great teachers. So I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.
And from his interview with the Register's editorial board:
We have watched the president for four years. There is almost nothing he has done that has helped get people to work or to increased incomes. I hope you understand that. And his current plan, he's described it. He wants another stimulus. Those stimulus dollars go overwhelmingly to government. Government plays an important role but that's not going to help farms right here and get people to work. He wants to hire more school teachers. We all like school teachers. It’s a wonderful thing. Typically, school teachers are hired by states and localities, not by the federal government. But hiring school teachers is not going to raise the growth of the U.S. economy over the next three-to-four years.
Listen to Romney's remarks:
Romney's belief that state and local governments should decide whether or not to hire teachers has remained consistent. During both the debate and his interview with the Register, he voiced his opposition toward the Obama administration's proposal to send $30 billion in federal dollars to states for the explicit purpose of teacher retention and hiring. In fact, months before the debate, Romney mocked the president for proposing funding to keep teachers on the job.
What's different is the rhetorical approach Romney has taken to the issue, going from pledging his support for more teachers to downplaying the necessity of hiring them. There are also questions over the idea that hiring teachers does not produce any economic benefit, as studies have shown that the layoffs of teachers and other government workers has had an economic impact.
The Romney campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
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