COLUMBUS: President Barack Obama’s latest campaign visit to Ohio focused Monday on what he says he’s doing for a key industry in the state.
Former Gov. Ted Strickland, warming up a Columbus crowd for the president, explained why the Democratic president is talking about his support for the auto industry. He urged people to work for Obama against Republican Mitt Romney, who opposed the auto industry bailout.
“We will walk the streets, knock the doors, make the phone calls, give the money, do whatever is necessary to make sure that you (Romney) don’t have another chance to let Detroit go bankrupt. Because Ohioans believe in the American auto industry,” Strickland said.
Obama highlighted a U.S. trade case action against China in a Cincinnati rally earlier Monday, and several people in a Columbus park said they wanted to hear about his China trade policy.
“He needs to fight tooth-and-nail, because they’ve been cheating for a very long time,” said Ronnie Hall, a general contractor.
“The American auto industry has come roaring back,” Obama said in Cincinnati, as his administration aimed at what it calls illegal Chinese subsidies for auto- and auto-part export industries. He said his administration’s support for U.S. automakers has helped them rebound, but that he has been working to make sure they are competing evenly.
“When other countries don’t play by the rules, we’ve done something about it,” Obama said. He said the Chinese subsidies “directly harm working men and women on the assembly line in Ohio and Michigan.”
Ohio’s auto assembly and auto parts plants employ more than 70,000 workers, and are linked to many more jobs across the state.
AK Steel worker Andrew Hounshell introduced Obama, praising him for supporting workers like those at his Middletown plant who make steel for automobiles such as the Ohio-made Chevrolet Cruzes.
“He is making sure we are playing by the same rules (as China),” Hounshell said.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has run ads in Ohio criticizing the president and pledging that his Republican challenger would be tough on China. Romney’s campaign said Monday Obama is making a “campaign-season move” that comes “too little, too late.”
When Obama mentioned Romney going across Ohio in their hotly contested race for the state, there were boos from the Eden Park crowd estimated at 4,500 people in Cincinnati.
“Don’t boo. Vote,” Obama urged.
Obama carried Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, in 2008 as the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Some supporters in the crowd said they are trying to make sure people who aren’t as excited about the presidential race as they were in 2008 will still get out and vote.
“I see the same level of support, but not the same level of enthusiasm,” said Cincinnati campaign volunteer Russel Durst, who tells people it’s important to their hopes for a better economy to re-elect Obama.
“Never take anything for granted,” said Bob Jones, 62, of suburban Forest Park. “I think he needs four more years to continue the recovery. We tend to be crisis-oriented, and this is a crisis.”
From that rally, Obama headed to Columbus for a Monday afternoon park rally. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was in Columbus to lead a GOP rally.
Recent polls have indicated Obama leading narrowly in Ohio, a state likely to be crucial to Romney’s hopes of unseating him.
Sewell reported from Cincinnati.