If President Barack Obama wins reelection Tuesday, it will most likely be because he won Ohio. And if he wins Ohio, it will most likely be because of a decision he made in the midst of the Great Recession, deciding the U.S. auto industry was too big to fail.
While Obama mentions it in most stump speeches in the waning days of this presidential campaign, the auto industry rescue and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's widely refuted claims about auto job losses took center stage during Obama's trip around Ohio on Friday, including an afternoon stop in Lima.
"(Romney's) having a tough time in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry," Obama told the crowd of 3,800 at Lima Senior High School. "You've got to own what you say. This isn't a game. These are people's jobs at stake, lives. You don't scare hard-working Americans just to scare up some votes. That's not what being president's all about."
Last week, during a campaign stop in Defiance, Romney included in his speech an inaccurate media account that Chrysler was shipping Jeep jobs to China. The claim has been refuted many times over, including by company officials. Romney hasn't mentioned the claim while campaigning since last week, according to the Associated Press, but he has continued running ads on the theme in Ohio.
The TV ad says: "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China." And the radio ad says: "Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China. And now comes word that Chrysler is starting to build cars in -- you guessed it -- China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio?"
Chrysler is actually adding 1,100 jobs at its Toledo plant, along with adding production facilities in China to build cars for Chinese customers. Romney's campaign insists the ads are accurate, according to the AP.
One in eight Ohio jobs is connected to the auto industry.
President George W. Bush had first asked Congress for the auto bailout money, but the bill failed. Obama then took office and used money from another bailout program and directed it to the car companies.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland, campaigning with Obama in Lima on Friday, said Obama's action on General Motors and Chrysler then is now "driving Gov. Romney batty."
Talk about the auto industry's comeback drew louder applause than killing Osama Bin Laden.
"President Obama stood up, faced down the naysayers, and there were lots of them. It took bold, courageous action, and today the American auto industry is back," Strickland said.
Romney opposed government intervention to bail out GM and Chrysler, which were on the verge of collapse.
"Everybody's entitled to make a mistake, but when that mistake was brought to his attention, he doubled down and embellished the falsehood," Strickland said. "Buckeyes aren't dumb. And we've got his number."
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