President Barack Obama lit into Mitt Romney during a campaign stop in Hilliard, Ohio, on Friday morning for running ads in Ohio falsely suggesting that Chrysler is moving production of Jeeps to China.
“The car companies themselves have told Governor Romney to knock it off!” Obama said to a boisterous crowd at the first of three stops that day in the Buckeye State. “Everybody knows it’s not true. The car companies themselves have told Governor Romney to knock it off.”
“I understand that Governor Romney has had a tough time here in Ohio,” Obama added later. But “you don’t scare hardworking Americans just to scare up some votes. That’s not what being president is all about.”
The comments are a sharp, personal rebuke of the throw-everything-against-the-wall strategy that Romney has pursued in the election’s closing week. His campaign has misrepresented a news report that Chrysler is thinking of building vehicles in China (for purposes of selling vehicles in China) to suggest that the car company is moving American jobs overseas. Chrysler has vehemently denied it. And when Romney’s campaign went further — suggesting that General Motors was doing the same — top executives of both companies criticized the Republican presidential nominee.
That response hasn’t slowed down the Romney campaign. Instead, it has defended the ads by arguing that the language is technically true. Local newspapers haven’t bought the explanation. In fact, their coverage of the story suggests that the gambit has blown up in Romney’s face.
So it’s hardly surprising that in his closing pitch to Ohio voters, Obama was quite eager to bring the discussion back to his own decision to extend the auto companies a federal loan shortly after taking office and Romney’s decision to oppose that loan.
“It is hard to run away from that position when you are on videotape saying the words, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt,’ said Obama. “And I know we are close to an election, but this isn’t a game. These are people’s jobs. These are people’s lives.”