- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2012

TOLEDO, Ohio — As his allies in Big Labor savaged Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Obama told a heavily union crowd in this auto-manufacturing city Monday that he saved the industry while Mr. Romney would have allowed it to collapse.

“When the auto industry was flat-lining, what was in Gov. Romney’s playbook was to let Detroit go bankrupt,” Mr. Obama told about 3,100 supporters at a high school gymnasium. “You would have been benched for good. We weren’t going to give up on your jobs. I stood with American workers. Three years later, that bet is paying off for America.”

The president is on a four-state campaign swing through battleground states on his way to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he will arrive Wednesday. Mr. Obama has visited Iowa, Colorado and Ohio on this trip, with a trip to Norfolk, Va., set for Tuesday.

Ohio is one of the most hotly contested states in the race — no Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio — and Mr. Obama is playing heavily on his bailout of the auto industry to win here. The president mocked Mr. Romney with football analogies, playing on the Republican’s comment in Ohio last weekend that America needs a new coach.

“He said he’s going to be the coach that leads America to a winning season,” Mr. Obama said. “The problem is, everybody’s already seen his playbook.”

On first down, Mr. Obama said, Mr. Romney “hikes taxes,” although the president fumbled the delivery of his line.

On second down, he said, Mr. Romney “calls an audible and undoes reforms that are there to prevent another financial crisis and bank bailout.”

On third down, “he calls for a Hail Mary — ending Medicare as we know it,” Mr. Obama said.

He told Ohioans of the Romney-Ryan plan, “Punt it away. You don’t need that coach. That’s a losing season.”

Mr. Obama got an assist on Labor Day from union officials who deployed some of the most heated rhetoric of the campaign. Speaker after speaker preceding the president at the rally blasted Mr. Romney, with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka suggesting that the Republican is exploiting racial and social divisions in the campaign.

“The Republican candidate for president has decided to target people like you and me,” Mr. Trumka told the crowd. “He wants to target us with ads and with mail that make sly appeals to ugly, ugly emotions and social divisions. His goal is to pit the American people against each other, so we won’t vote. What he’s doing is beneath the dignity of the American people, and we won’t let him win. It’s time that we take a stand against intolerance, and for American values.”

An official from the Republican National Committee responded that it sounded as if Mr. Trumka “is talking about President Obama’s campaign.”

“While the Romney-Ryan ticket have put together solutions to problems like jobs, Medicare and our debt, President Obama still hasn’t explained why he deserves another four years,” said RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kirkowski. “His campaign continues to say our country is better off despite 7 in 10 Americans who disagree. Can we trust a president who thinks 23 million Americans struggling under our economy and 42 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent is better off?”

Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, said at the Toledo rally that Mr. Romney would be an enemy of union workers if he’s elected president.

“If you have not read the Republican platform, read it,” Mr. King told the audience. “It is the most reactionary, right-wing platform in the history of the Republican Party. They’ll do a national attack on collective-bargaining rights and the rights to be in unions, and the rights to negotiate strong contracts for our membership.”

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