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Vice President hails auto jobs report during Toledo speech

By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa

March 15, 2012: Even with the March primary in the books, the presidential political season continues to heat up in Toledo—this time with a visit from Vice President Joe Biden. His appearance Thursday at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local #12 hall served as the kickoff to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

The vice president spoke to a supportive union crowd numbering in the hundreds, touting the Obama administration’s decision to bail out the auto industry. Biden also directly took on a trio of potential Republican presidential opponents. His Toledo speech is the first of four expected from the vice president outlining major accomplishments and political issues in the campaign.

“The verdict is in: President Obama was right and they were dead wrong,” Biden said of GOP leaders who opposed the auto bailout.

The vice president told the crowd the auto bailout saved one million jobs on assembly lines and   at parts plants, and created 200,000 more. He cited 250 employees to be hired at the Toledo GM Powertrain plant and 1,100 jobs expected following an expansion at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex. GM is adding an eight-speed transmission line and Chrysler-Fiat will roll out a new Jeep SUV once the expansion is completed in the second quarter of 2013.

Both sides have tried to appeal to the middle class during campaign appearances. The vice president even called out three GOP hopefuls by name: attacking former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

“These guys have a fundamentally different economic philosophy than we do,” Biden said. “If you give any one of these guys the keys to the White House, they will bankrupt the middle class again.” 

Biden also stated the presidential campaign will paint “clear, stark differences” between Obama and his potential Republican rivals for the White House.

“Stated simply, we’re about promoting the private sector. They’re about protecting the privileged sector,” said Biden. “We’re about a fair shot and a fair shake. They’re about no rules, no risk, and no accountability.”

In the days preceding the vice president’s visit, UAW leaders and state Democratic officials held a series of press conferences criticizing past GOP comments on the auto industry bailout. Their efforts hinted at heavy UAW support in the Obama 2012 campaign, as well as set the stage for Biden’s fiery 15-minute speech. 

For example, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern and UAW Region 2B Director Ken Lortz each stated the president’s auto rescue plan is working and serves as a major reason why he deserves four more years to help the economy make further gains.

“While the Obama administration was working to save jobs, Republicans were saying not to rescue the auto industry.” said Lortz.

“These are communities, while regions of our state that hung in the balance and because of the President's leadership are now thriving.” said Redfern.

Ohio is a key swing state that is well-known for picking the winning presidential candidate in the last 12 elections. Voters have chosen a Democrat three times and a Republican five times since 1980. Since Obama won Buckeye backing in 2008 with 51.4 percent of the vote, Republicans have swept statewide offices, won a U.S. Senate race, and replaced five Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 2010 midterm elections.

Ohio’s importance as a battleground state was demonstrated during the GOP primary, when Romney made a Toledo appearance, Santorum stopped in Wood County twice, and Gingrich appeared alongside him at one of those stops at Bowling Green State University. The vice president’s Toledo visit is sandwiched between two Ohio trips for President Obama—the first time attending an NCAA men’s tournament basketball game with the British prime minister, and the second an energy policy speech in Columbus.

Obama and Biden each have toured the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex in the recent past, both to tout the success of the bailout and hold the manufacturing facility up as an example of how the economy is rebounding under their leadership.



Copyright © 1989 to 2012 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/27/12 05:23:35 -0800.





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