Rick Santorum, asked by an audience member about No Child Left Behind, said he supported President George W. Bush’s signature education reform law that is now reviled by conservative voters out of loyalty to his party.
“It was against the principles I believe, but when you’re part of the team, sometimes you take one from the team for the leader, and I made a mistake,” he said, and some in the audience booed.
Santorum reiterated that he would like to see federal and state power over education returned to the local level, and added that his personal life showed his commitment.
“Look, I’m a home-schooling father of seven; I know the importance of customized education for our children; I know the importance of parental control of education; I know the importance of local control of education,” he said.
Rep. Ron Paul tore into Santorum over the answer, saying it represented what was wrong with politicians in Washington.
“He calls it a team sport; he has to go along to get along…. That’s what the problem is with Washington. That’s what’s been going on for so long,” he said. “The obligation of all of us should to the oath of office, it shouldn’t be oath to the party.”
Gingrich used the matter to slam public teachers unions, accusing them of caring more about their members than children, specifically calling out Los Angeles’ union.
“It’s increasingly clear they care about protecting bad teachers. If you look at L.A. Unified, it is almost criminal what we do to the poorest children of America,” he said. “If a foreign nation did this to our children, we would declare it an act of war because they are doing so much damage.”