President Obama wasn’t in Youngstown Monday to hear his top campaign surrogate for himself, choosing instead to remain at the White House to oversee federal Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, but had he been in blustery Ohio today, he would certainly have smiled when former two-term Democratic President Bill Clinton, who in the new role the president gave him in early September at the Democratic National Convention as explainer-in-chief, explained Mitt Romney’s claim from last week that Jeep was moving its domestic auto manufacturing to China as the “biggest load of bull in the world.”
Biggest load of bull
For President Obama, having a two-term president of Clinton’s stature be at your side when the battle to win a second term is fiercest is a luxury even Mitt Romney, the wealthiest candidate ever to run for president in America, can’t buy. Given the disappearing act performed by the Republicans’ most recent president, two-term President George W. Bush, from its convention in late August, leaving Mitt Romney with no former GOP White House leader with star power competitive with Clinton’s to stand by his side.
In a state Mitt Romney must win, that he’s tied in at best at 47-47 in a poll commissioned by Ohio’s largest newspapers and maybe be trailing by as many as five points as more recent polls say, fumbling the ball again in Defiance in northwest Ohio last week on the auto bailout, an issue that has emerged as arguably the key issue driving political sentiment, can only serve to blunt his momentum with only eight days left until Election Day as Big Dogs like Clinton sink their teeth into the guts of Romney’s claim, which were confronted head-on today by the man who managed the auto rescue and by media increasingly ready to break from denying a whopper is indeed a whopper.
‘Big Dog’ Clinton barks at Romney
As the opening act for Vice President Joe Biden in a working class city once known for its prowess as a steel-manufacturing center, President Bill Clinton reminded voters in Youngstown that Romney turned his back on the auto industry and that Americans can’t trust him to stand up for them. Mitt Romney’s campaign released a new television ad based on false claims Democrats called “widely deceptive.”
“When the auto industry faced collapse, it was President Obama who bet on the America worker, saving more than a million auto-industry jobs up and down the supply chain, and now Jeep just saw its best September sales in six years and is adding more than a thousand jobs in Ohio,” Big Dog Clinton said. Mr. Clinton noted that Mitt Romney had different plans. “He said that we should just ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’ And his new misleading ad reeks of desperation.”
No issue is more important to the hopes of Team Obama-Biden and Team Romney-Ryan in Ohio than the rescue of the auto industry. Ohio, the preeminent battleground state in which one in every eight jobs, or about 850,000 jobs, are tied to Detroit’s Big Three car manufacturers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, now owned by Italian car maker Fiat, will make or break who wins and who loses in this campaign cycle.
Rattner pushes back on Romney’s claim to back auto rescue
Steven Rattner, former head of President Obama’s Administration Auto Task Force, told reporters the auto rescue has become a political issue, and that it’s not surprising given “what the president did and what Romney said he would do.”
Rattner directly credited Ohio’s recover from the Great Recession and its current 7 percent unemployment rate to President Obama. He rhetorically asked what would have happened had the president not done what he did, which saved a million jobs. ” I’m proud of what we accomplished together,” he said.
Clinton put the focus squarely on Romney’s illusion. “Now it turns out that Jeep is reopening in China because they made so much money here they can afford to do it and they are going on with their plans here. They [Chrysler] put out a statement today saying that it was the biggest load of bull in the world that they would consider shutting down their American operation. They are roaring in America thanks to people like the people of Ohio. So in keeping with that, here is what I want to say I think this election is about. I support Barack Obama because I think he has got a better jobs plan, and a better jobs record, a better budget plan, a better education plan, a better health care plan than his opponent Governor Romney.”
Romney, Portman muddy waters on Detroit
In Ohio today at Avon Lake, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ohio junior U.S. Senator Rob Portman, now a trusted advisor and regular cheerleader at Romney campaign rallies, talked up their presidential nominee. Portman, a top tier VP pick for Romney, told a crowd in Avon Lake, “It was Barack Obama who took GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy, okay. Right? Am I right? Second, it was Mitt Romney who actually did provide for loan guarantees to make sure the warranties were backed up.”
In his famous op-ed, Romney wrote: “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.”
Biden scraps with Romney
Vice President Biden was in his usual comfort zone, hammering Mitt Romney for being, well, Mitt Romney. Biden, a devout Catholic, crossed himself at one point in his talk when he pushed back hard on Romney’s now fact-checked false claim. “As we say in my faith, ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned. I mean, what are you talking about? I have never seen anything like that. It’s an absolutely, patently false assertion.”
The vice president didn’t let up. “Ladies and gentlemen, have they no shame? Romney will say anything, absolutely anything to win, it seems.”
But while Romney is heartened by national polls, some of which show him leading, only voters in key states, especially Ohio, will have the final say on who wins the White House. If President Obama wins the same states Democrats have won five times in a row, he has a base of 242 electoral votes, 28 votes shy of the 270 out of 538 votes needed to be elected president. In the last week of the election, it appears President Obama will win Nevada and New Mexico, bringing him to 253. To get to 270, he can win one or more of the following battleground states and their electoral votes: Florida (29), Ohio (18), North Carolina (15), Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), and New Hampshire (4).
Romney still behind in Ohio
In the latest state-specific poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, Obama leads Romney 51-47 percent. With the election one week away come Tuesday, Mitt Romney may not have enough time to win Ohio, where early voting started Oct. 2 and where early voting has favored his backers 2-1 over Romney voters.
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