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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

Dems credit Obama for auto aid

Party leader, UAW official issue praise ahead of Biden's visit to city

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ken Lortz, UAW regional director, said President Obama saved the automobile industry while Republicans opposed the bailout that ultimately worked. Ken Lortz, UAW regional director, said President Obama saved the automobile industry while Republicans opposed the bailout that ultimately worked.
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One day ahead of Vice President Joe Biden's Toledo visit, a top Democratic leader along with a key union leader on Wednesday credited President Obama for the federal aid and restructuring of the U.S. auto industry while trashing his likely Republican opponent.

Ken Lortz, UAW regional director, said President Obama saved the automobile industry while Republicans opposed the bailout that ultimately worked.

"As a result of President Obama's leadership, the strength of collective bargaining, the support of our members, our auto industry has survived and is now growing," Mr. Lortz said.

"Mitt Romney even wrote, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt,' " he said. "Mitt Romney and other Republicans let us down."

Mr. Lortz and Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, during a news conference at the UAW's Maumee office, released an eight-page report detailing the "thriving Ohio auto industry."

"President Obama decided that decisive action was needed to save the auto industry … and because President Obama bet on American auto workers, the devastating impact that would have come with the liquidation of GM and Chrysler never happened," the document states.

It goes on to point out that the Republican candidates for president opposed the bailout.

Vice President Biden will make his first 2012 Toledo campaign stop before UAW members Thursday.

Mr. Biden, who will speak at United Auto Workers Local 12 headquarters, 2300 Ashland Ave., will talk about "the critical role the auto industry plays in growing the economy in Ohio and throughout the country," and will compare President Obama's efforts to Republicans' plans "to return to the same policies that created the economic crisis and put the middle class at risk," according to the campaign.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern
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Mr. Redfern said the report highlights how Ohio auto companies and supply-chain companies invested more and hired more people after President Obama's bailout.

The report states 120,000 Ohioans are directly employed by the auto industry; 12 percent of Ohioans' jobs depend on the auto industry; 1.1 million vehicles are made in Ohio, and $53,700 is the average wage of Ohioans in the auto industry.

The vice president has made appearances with Toledo auto workers before. In 2010, he toured the Jeep Wrangler assembly plant in North Toledo and that year he also marched in the city's Labor Day parade with then-Gov. Ted Strickland.

All elected officials are invited to the event Thursday, an official in the Obama campaign said.

As of Wednesday, Mayor Mike Bell was not expected to attend and greet the vice president because his office had not received a telephone call or email from the campaign, said the mayor's spokesman, Jen Sorgenfrei.

"If offered the opportunity to welcome Vice President Biden back to Toledo, the mayor would be happy to do so," she said.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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