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Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday said the notion that he wanted to cut government jobs like teachers and firefighters was "completely absurd."
During an interview with Romney on Fox News, co-host Brian Kilmeade noted that the Obama campaign had been hammering the GOP hopeful for saying that it was time to "cut back on government," citing the president's call to hire "more firemen, more policeman, more teachers."
"That's a very strange accusation," Romney insisted. "Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen."
"So obviously that's completely absurd," he added. "He's got a new idea, though, and that is to have another stimulus and to have the federal government send money to try and bail out cities and states. It didn't work the first time. It certainly wouldn't work the second time."
At a campaign stop in Iowa on Friday, Romney had blasted Obama for pushing Congress to fund 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!"
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), who is the chairman of 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.
"There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population," Sununu told MSNBC host Chris Jansing. "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 pointed out.
"If there's fewer kids in the classroom, the taxpayers really do want to hear that there will be fewer teachers," Sununu insisted. "Absolutely."
Watch this video from Fox News' Fox & Friends via Think Progress, broadcast June 11, 2012.