Toledo auto-parts worker stars in campaign ad

5/10/2012
BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

Brian Slagle of West Toledo is shown driving to work and giving the President credit for having saved his job.
Brian Slagle of West Toledo is shown driving to work and giving the President credit for having saved his job.

A Toledo auto-parts factory worker is the star of a new TV ad by President Obama's campaign focusing on what might be the President's signature accomplishment as far as battleground Ohio is concerned -- the 2009 auto industry bailout.

The TV ad is one of two that start airing on Friday, joining a third that hit television screens in Ohio earlier in the week. All three hammer hard on the government-funded bailout for the auto industry that Mr. Obama supported and that his presumed Republican opponent Mitt Romney opposed.

Brian Slagle, who lives in West Toledo near Alexis and Telegraph roads, is shown getting up in the predawn hours and driving to an unidentified factory to work.

Mr. Slagle could not be reached Wednesday for comment. A Facebook page with his name indicates that Mr. Slagle works for Johnson Controls in Springfield Township. The Milwaukee-based company makes automotive batteries.

While he drives on I-475, he gives Mr. Obama credit for having saved his job, the ad says.

"The auto industry was crashing down. I was scared to death. I had a newborn baby, a wife, a house, and I got laid off. I wasn't sure what I was going to do," Mr. Slagle says, as images of him playing ball with his son, pouring a cup of coffee in an Ohio State Buckeyes mug, and driving in the rain flash across the screen.

A narrator says, "Under the President's auto-rescue plan the industry restructured, saving over 1 million jobs."

The ad returns to Mr. Slagle who says, "Obama stuck his neck out for us, the auto industry. He wasn't going to let it just die, and I'm driving in this morning because of that, because of him."

The words on the screen are, "The auto industry is back."

A second new Obama ad features the President talking over footage of cars being built.

The President, in an open-collar shirt, is shown talking to average folks in their homes, on a farm, in a restaurant, and in what appears to be a car factory meeting room. One of the workers has a Chevrolet Cruze-emblazoned shirt. The Cruze is assembled at the Lordstown General Motors Co. factory in eastern Ohio.

"The decision to intervene with the auto industry was not popular. But I was convinced it was the right thing to do," Mr. Obama says to the camera.

The ad will run in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Florida, and Iowa.

A TV ad for President Obama features a part of I-475.  It is one of two that start airing on Friday, joining a third that hit television screens in Ohio earlier in the week.
A TV ad for President Obama features a part of I-475. It is one of two that start airing on Friday, joining a third that hit television screens in Ohio earlier in the week.

The 2009 auto rescue saved Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors, both of which are now back to earning profits, a far cry from the economic catastrophe feared in late 2008 and early 2009 when both companies were starving for operating financing in the midst of a global financial crisis. The rescue also saved dependent supplier companies.

Critics say taxpayers are still out $23 billion on the deal, that creditors and shareholders were not fairly treated, that it added to the national debt, and that the United Auto Workers received generous treatment as political payback for their support of Mr. Obama. UAW leaders say employees shared in the pain, giving up at least $7,000 annually each in the form of lost overtime, a canceled cost-of-living raise, and work-rule concessions.

Mr. Romney opposed a direct government bailout in 2008, saying the auto industry should have been allowed to face the judgment of the marketplace, with no "bailout check," but with government guarantees to back up private financing. Democrats said there was no private financing to be found.

On Monday, Mr. Romney went a step further and took credit for the auto-industry rebound, saying it was his idea that was accepted by President Obama to put the companies through managed bankruptcy.

Campaign spokesman Frank Benenati in Chicago said the purpose of the Brian Slagle ad is to show how Mr. Obama's policies are aimed at restoring economic security to middle-class families.

"It's important to remember that Brian's story would be very different if Mitt Romney had his way and the auto industry went bankrupt," he said.

Launched on Monday was the ad titled "Go," which surveys the last four years, starting with the "economic meltdown" of 2008, leading to the loss of 4.4 million jobs between the end of 2008 and January, 2009, when Mr. Obama took office.

Since then the economy has added 4.2 million jobs.

As part of its footage, the ad shows a Tea Party rally while the narrator says, "Some said our best days were behind us. But not him."

The ad also highlights the Affordable Care Act, known to some as Obamacare, and the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

The ad is running in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado.

The Republican Party criticized the "Go" ad as an effort to blame other people and forces for slow economic growth during Mr. Obama's term.

"While Obama may want you to forget he's been President for the past three and a half years, the fact that his policies have wreaked havoc on the middle class from high unemployment, high energy and higher education costs won't be forgotten. America deserves better than Obama's brand of hype and blame," national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.