LORDSTOWN, Ohio -- The resonance of the auto industry bailout in Lordstown was evident Friday as Vice President Joe Biden reminded a union hall audience -- many of them employed at the nearby General Motors Co. plant -- that Republican nominee Mitt Romney had opposed the federal cash infusion.
Many of the people wore UAW shirts emblazoned with the words: "You had our back. Now we got yours."
The bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler Group LLC were initiated before President Obama took office but continued -- along with supervision of their restructuring -- under his administration.
"But for the sacrifices you all made and the courage of the President of the United States, all those GM plants would be closed, here and all across the country," Mr. Biden said.
The vice president took little time to remind the auto workers and their neighbors that Mr. Romney had opposed the requests for the government to prop up the auto giants.
"Governor Romney's position has already been mentioned -- and you know all too well -- is to let General Motors and Chrysler, let them go bankrupt," Mr. Biden said, adding the headline of an opinion piece by Mr. Romney published in November, 2008: "Let Detroit go bankrupt."
In the article, printed in the New York Times, Mr. Romney argued that a government bailout would allow the manufacturers to avoid needed restructuring.
Numerous audience members, including Chuck Mohan, who drives a forklift at the GM plant, said they support Mr. Obama because of the auto industry rescue.
"When they supported the auto bailout, they basically saved our jobs," he said. "We appreciate that, and now we're backing them."
Ohio's unemployment rate has dropped steadily since peaking at 10.6 percent in the second half of 2009 and January, 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in July, below the national rate of 8.3 percent.
The auto workers at the UAW hall were celebrating the announcement last week that General Motors will invest $220 million in the Lords- town plant and a facility near Cleveland -- news Mr. Biden offered as evidence of continued improvement.
"They said last night that things weren't getting better," he said of speakers at the Republican National Convention. "I guess they don't know what's happening in this valley."
Mr. Romney and his surrogates have campaigned regularly in Ohio, and the former Massachusetts governor is scheduled to hold a rally today in Cincinnati. Mr. Biden urged the crowd in Lords- town to help deliver their state a second time for the President.
"Help us win Ohio," Mr. Biden said. "If we win Ohio, we win the election."
Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Karen Langley is a staff writer for the Post-Gazette.
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