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Will Ohio autoworkers back prez?

Published: Sun, September 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

It’s no accident that Ohio Gov. John Kasich did not mention how important the auto industry is to the state’s economy when he addressed the National Republican Convention in Tampa. To do so, Kasich would have had to acknowledge that he was wrong in opposing the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

And, in admitting the error of his ways, the Republican governor would have been conceding that Democratic President Barack Obama was right in not letting the two auto giants go bankrupt — as the GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney, had urged.

But what Kasich did not say about the key role GM, Chrysler and Ford (it did not seek a federal loan) plays in Ohio’s economic wellbeing, former Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, did — in spades.

Strickland, who lost to Kasich by a sliver of a vote in the 2010 election, addressed the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, and delivered a speech that National Public Radio called a “stem-winder.”


It was chock full of one-liners that could easily fit into 30-second campaign commercials.

Here’s a sampling:

“Now, Mitt Romney, he lives by a different code. To him, American workers are just numbers on a spreadsheet. To him, all profits are created equal, whether made on our shores or off.”

“Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.”

But it was when he talked about the auto industry in Ohio, that the differences between his speech and the one delivered by Gov. Kasich were most evident.

“The auto industry supports one of every eight jobs in Ohio, and it’s alive and growing in America again,” Strickland said. “Late last year, Chrysler announced they were hiring eleven hundred new autoworkers in Toledo. Just last month, GM announced a plan to invest 200 million dollars in Lordstown, keeping five thousand jobs in Ohio and building the next generation of the Chevy Cruze — a car we are proud to say is made entirely in Ohio.”

Given the number of times the federal bailout of the auto industry was mentioned during the Democratic Party convention, it is clear that the Obama campaign believes it has a winning issue, especially in the battleground state of Ohio.

Strickland’s decision to humanize the bailout by talking about three Ohioans was effective and was obviously designed to send a message to the autoworkers, not only in this state, but throughout the nation: Think of where you would be today if President Obama had not stood up for the auto industry.

But as the 2010 statewide election showed, such gratitude is not a given.

As was noted in this space after that election, the heavily Democratic Mahoning and Trumbull counties failed to provide the turnout Strickland needed to counter the enthusiasm evident in Republican strongholds.

Highest percentage

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras has argued that Strickland received the highest percentage of his vote here. But, a comparatively low number of voters in the Valley may have cost Strickland the election.

And that’s the challenge the Obama campaign must meet in the next two months. Can Democrats, especially those who have benefitted from the recovery of the auto industry, be persuaded to get off the sidelines that they occupied in 2010 and vote for the president?

Republicans have been concentrating on white, male blue-collar workers that the Obama campaign appears to have written off.

However, if Strickland’s speech was any indication, Democrats in Ohio aren’t conceding any voting group.

“It’s been a long slog back, and we’ve still got a long way to go. But all over Ohio — all over America —men and women are going back to work with the pride of building something stamped ‘Made in America,’” Strickland said. “Before Barack Obama took office, it looked like that pride could have vanished forever, but today, from the staggering depths of the Great Recession, the nation has had 29 straight months of job growth.”

Autoworkers who are unwilling to give Obama credit for saving their jobs should remember Romney’s advice: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”


1Eagleman1969(9 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, Bam Bam DID take GM & Chrysler into bankruptcy anyhow! But instead of a nice, clean one like nearly ALL the airlines went thru, this one is all messed up.

Many, many family dealerships closed, half the auto lines were scrapped, the bond holders, the penisoners, and the non-union Delphi folks were HOSED!

They had to break the law as the bond holders had first position, but no, his union buddies had to come first.

The country STILL has over capacity and instead of the weak & mismanaged falling and being ABSORBED by the strong and successful; the agony has only been extended and prolonged.

Even cash for clunkers failed. At a cost to US of $25,000 per car, it messed up the spare parts and used car businesses for years.

Fiat got Chrysler and much of GM looks to go to CHINA. Oh yeah, and our children are on the hook for tens of billions that "Prez" gave away to the unions just like he did to his "Green" company campaign donors.

And let's not forget the mighty VOLT. Runs on COAL fired electricity and really costs some $250,000 per copy as of now with all the extra money the start up suppliers needed to produce a car very very few want.

Yes sir, we don't need no stinking BUSINESSMAN in the White House, do we?

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2dmacker(535 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

As a life long Democrat from a family of the same,
I'm disgusted at where we find the Democratic party today. Making their own rules as they go.
God fearing only when it garners a few more votes. Look at the vote they took at the convention, the results of which they ignored.
The party is being run by people who know nothing about building a company or running a business. Most have lived their lives at the government trough and enjoying the benefits of others hard work and long hours building it.
They believe the government owes them the same economic benefits of those who work hard to earn theirs. They are only to happy to give away other peoples hard earned money but not their own.
Spending what we don't have has become the rule and all politicians have joined in the spree.
We need to clean the slate and start over.

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3andersonathan(687 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Must be terrible to not make a profit on something millions need and millions want and millions really want when they turn 16. totally forgot the assembly line worker is middle class

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4chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Someone needs to fact check Bertrum's column before it goes to press. Eagleman is correct, GM fid file for bankruptcy in 2009 and the bondholder's priority in GM's assets were put at the end of the line.

Ted Strickland did nothing for General Motors except petition the federal government for assistance, like a street corner beggar. What did the state of Ohio during Strickland's term precisely do to save GM?

The irony is that Obama's green-energy baby has filed for bankruptcy and due the his administration's stupidity the taxpayer's funds totalling $500+ million dollars were subordinated to venture capitalists. O'bama demonizes Bain Capital yet gives similar venture capitalist's (aka Obama's big campaign contributors) first dibbs at Solyndra'a assets while putting the taxpayer's last again.

The Barrack and teddie show loved to spend (code word: invest) our money in it's pet projects such as Solyndra.

Yet Bertrum fails to examine the entire picture. Governor Kasich has balanced the budget and has gotten the State's bond rating upgraded to attract more new business and jobs. Teddie raided the tobacco fund to pay Ohio's other debts.

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5redeye1(5657 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

TOS I just love how all you demoncrats can predict the future. The last time I checked the president is only one man. He has to deal with congress in order to get things past. That is unless you are BO ( who can't compromise with anyone) who justs writes an executive order on a whim.

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6DSquared(1788 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Who gives a crap about the Union in the grand scheme of things! They are only 6% of the work force. Their time has come and gone. You obviously didn't plan your life well enough if you need some blowhard union boss to steal a chunk of your paycheck so he can buy a new pinkie ring and pinstripe-suit.

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7tnmartin(522 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

''Will Ohio autoworkers back prez?''.
Silly question!
If he was revealed to be Satan in disguise, horns, tail, pitchfork, odor of burning sulfur and death, and all -- so long as he was an 'endorsed Democrat', they would. Much of the Valley would, and will. Much like lemmings, perhaps.
I can cite examples going back more than 40 years to support the statement.

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