COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Republicans tailing President Obama during his Colorado campaign swing Thursday responded with a blitz after he said wanted to do for manufacturing what he did for the automobile industry.
Mr. Obama told a crowd of about 3,000 at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo that he helped save the U.S. auto industry with the government bailout of Chrysler and General Motors, and that he wanted to do it again with the manufacturing sector.
"I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again," Mr. Obama said. "So now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry."
The crew of Republican surrogates following Mr. Obama in the so-called "Romney bus" quickly decried the president's comment, calling it another example of his belief in government interference over the free market.
"Just a couple of hours ago, Barack Obama said he wanted government to get involved in every industry," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, at a rally here at Acacia Park, a few blocks from where Mr. Obama was speaking at Colorado College. "Mr. President, the government will not grow our economy."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that the president has an "Occupy Wall Street worldview."
"Today, he talked about more bailouts," Mr. Jindal said. "A couple of weeks ago, remember, he went to Virginia and he said, 'If you have a small business, you didn't build that.' "
In his Pueblo speech, Mr. Obama continued by saying that, "I don't want those jobs taking root in places like China, I want those jobs taking root in places like Pueblo."
Even so, former Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez, one of Mr. Romney's campaign co-chairmen, said at the rally he was "astounded" by the president's remark.
"When I heard that, my jaw dropped," said Mr. Beauprez. "Haven't we seen enough government intervention already? And when does he stop? Is he going to seize and re-jigger every industry in the country?"
Wherever Mr. Obama went during his two-day campaign swing through Colorado, the Romney bus wasn't far behind.
Blue, white and chock full of vice-presidential contenders, the Romney bus chugged through Colorado for two days, hitting diners, campaign offices and city parks that fell in the general vicinity of the president's events.
Surrogates are nothing new on the presidential campaign trail, but the Romney bus in Colorado had more than its share of Republican luminaries. The bus featured Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Mr. Jindal, both of whom are on the short list for the number-two slot on the Republican ticket, as well as Mr. Chaffetz, Mr. Beauprez, Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner and a host of state officials.
Contrast that with the Obama campaign, which responded to Mitt Romney's visit to Colorado last week by sending as its surrogate Colorado state Rep. Max Tyler.
Colorado Republicans were heartened by a Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday showing Mr. Romney leading in Colorado for the first time since clinching the Republican presidential nomination. The poll showed Mr. Romney ahead by a margin of 50 percent to 45 percent.
During his two-day campaign swing, Mr. Obama drew contrasts with his economic policies and those of Mr. Romney. In Pueblo, he blasted his Republican foe's opposition to the wind-energy tax credit, telling the crowd of several thousand that the policy would jeopardize about 5,000 jobs in Colorado and 37,000 nationwide. Pueblo is home to Vestas Wind Systems, which employs more than 1,500 people.
"At a moment when homegrown energy, renewable energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers," said Mr. Obama. "Think what that would mean for a community like Pueblo."
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