President Obama addresses a campaign rally at Springfield High School… (Chip Somodevilla/Getty…)
SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — President Obama accused Mitt Romney of frightening auto workers for political gain here Friday as he tries to turn concern about the future of the auto industry into votes for his reelection.
In a gymnasium filled with 4,000 supporters, Obama hammered Romney for television ads suggesting Jeep jobs may be on their way to China.
Union leaders report that workers at the Toledo plant have been calling to find out if they’re losing their jobs.
“You don’t scare hardworking Americans just to scare up some votes,” Obama said. “That’s not what being president’s about.”
Car makers complain that the Romney ads stretch the facts. The ads say Chrysler plans to make Jeeps in China -- in a way that suggests American jobs may be at stake.
Chrysler says it does intend to make Jeeps in China, but not at the expense of American jobs. Chrysler says production of Jeeps in China would be for the Chinese market and that they are adding jobs and investment at their Jeep plant in Toledo.
A Romney spokeswoman said Friday that the ads are factual because the car makers are, in fact, expanding production overseas.
But Obama aides call it a scare tactic. During his stops in three Ohio towns Friday, the president is intent on raising the issue again and again, in case white working class men -- a targeted demographic for both sides here -- are swayed by the ads.
The president is also talking about the government bailout of the auto industry at every stop in this state, now ground zero in the battle for the presidency.
“I understand that Gov. Romney has had a tough time here in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry,” Obama said. “I get that it’s a problem for him. But you can’t run away from that position, especially when you’re on videotape saying the words, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt.’”
The Romney campaign is reiterating their candidate’s point that the auto bailout was an overreach by government. The auto companies should have gone through the bankruptcy process, Romney says, using the court protection to reorganize and emerge stronger.
“His mismanagement of the process has exposed taxpayers to a $25 billion loss,” spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said Friday.