President Obama hammered again on Republican opponent Mitt Romney as an investor in outsourcing while he says he is looking out for the middle class during the first speech of his two-day trip through northern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Before a crowd today at the Wolcott House Museum Complex in Maumee, a suburb of Toledo, the President alluded to the complaint his administration filed today in the World Trade Organization against China’s imposition of 15 percent tariffs on Jeep Wranglers and other SUVs.
Mr. Obama motored in from Toledo Express Airport where he arrived on Air Force One at 10:58 a.m.
On the way in, along Reynolds Road, Conant Street, the Anthony Wayne Trail, Key Street in Maumee, and River Road, he was greeted by groups of people taking pictures and waving. A group of Romney supporters waved signs as the President’s bus turned from Conant to the Trail.
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In his speech, the President highlighted the 2009 auto rescue as an example of his commitment to the middle class, and attacked Mr. Romney and the Republicans as committed to a “top down” approach to the economy that cuts taxes on the wealthy, while cutting education and job-training.
“Governor Romney’s experience has been in opening companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing. Pioneers of outsource. My experience has been in saving the American auto industry,” Mr. Obama said.
He referred to the Jeep plant in Toledo that is making the “car the world wants.”
He called on Congress to support his effort to help homeowners refinance their mortgages and save $3,000.
“Could you use an extra $3,000,” he asked, pointing out it would be spent in restaurants and stores.
“You’re putting that money back in circulation. That’s good for everybody. It’s good for small businesses, it’s good for large businesses,” he said.
The President joked at times and even commented on the heat.
“I know it’s a little warm out here. That’s what summer is supposed to feel like,” he said.
Mr. Obama noted that his daughter, Mahlia, turned 14 on Wednesday, which means she doesn’t believe all the fireworks are for her anymore.
“When she was small I could say all these fireworks were for her. She doesn’t believe me anymore,” he said.
The President spoke in front of a red barn emblazoned with a huge American flag. Stacks of bales of straw flanked the podium.
When someone called out for his wife, he told the crowd gathered under the blazing sun at the 19th Century Wolcott House that he knows he is regarded as “second fiddle,” behind First Lady Michelle Obama, and promised, “Michelle will come back sometime.”
Mr. Obama heralded his health care plan, and said he would work with everyone who wants to make it better, but sent a message to Republicans planning to repeal a plan they regard as an infringement on individual liberty.
“The law I passed is here to stay. It is going to make the vast majority of Americans more secure,” Mr. Obama said.
A woman who was once laid off in the auto industry introduced President Obama before his speech.
“He’s laid the foundation of the economy. It’s built to last. Hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, and everyone pays their fair share,” said Ina Sidney, who has been an employee of Chrysler Group LLC’s machining plant in Perrysburg Township for more than 16 years. She was laid off in 2009 for two months.
“Oh my goodness. She was so excited when she found out she could introduce the President,” said Deanna Boomer, of South Toledo, who is a friend of Ms. Sidney’s.
Ms. Sidney suffered financial strain during that time she was laid off, fell behind in her mortgage and medical bills, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. Ms. Sidney spoke in April during the Obama campaign’s “Made In Ohio” tour, praising the Obama-sponsored auto-industry bailout for getting her back to work.
“It was scary for a couple of months, scraping by on unemployment, maybe borrowing from other friends and family,” Ms. Sidney said in April. “Thanks to President Obama and our rescue, the Perrysburg plant [is] back, and better than ever before, praise the Lord.”
After the president’s plane touched down at Toledo Express, he was greeted two people on the tarmac, Jeff and Cheri Armes.
Mr. Armes, from New Bedford, Mass., is originally from Maryland. He spent most of his younger life in Michigan. He was raised by a single mother who worked two jobs to support her five children.
He is the owner and primary laborer at a chimney cleaning company he opened in 1985. He was able to expand his business to open a small store selling fireplace products after receiving funding from his local economic development council that secured funding through the Recovery Act.
The Armes couple and the President got on a bus together and headed to Maumee via the Ohio Turnpike. White House officials said Jeff and Cheri Armes won a lottery that allowed them to meet President Obama.
After the Maumee stop, the campaign bus tour was to continue on to Sandusky for a stop in the city’s Washington Park for a “Betting On Sandusky Ice Cream Social” at 3:40 p.m. Sandusky also has a large compliment on auto workers, as does the President’s next stop, the Cleveland suburb of Parma, at 7:15 p.m.
The trip continues Friday with a stop in Poland, Ohio, and ends in Pittsburgh.
The Romney campaign deployed as surrogates Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who met with reporters in Maumee before the President’s arrival.
The Wolcott House, and the trip to it, was like a postcard of middle America, with neat lawns, and historic homes along the Maumee River. James Wolcott was a business man who came to Maumee when it was the frontier, in 1827, and built a thriving business and became a political leader as well.
Staff writer Ignazio Messina contributed to this report.