HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's Republican senator said Wednesday that President Barack Obama is distorting Republican Mitt Romney's position on the auto industry bailout, a key issue in the pivotal state.
Sen. Rob Portman called Obama's comments at a Dayton rally "reckless and irresponsible," and said Obama "is not telling the truth."
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have repeatedly highlighted the auto industry bailout while campaigning in Ohio, saying it helped rescue automakers and save many thousands of jobs in the state. They rallied together Tuesday afternoon in a Dayton park, where Obama stressed the importance his administration's role, saying the auto industry is linked to as many as one of every eight Ohio jobs.
"If Mitt Romney had been president when the auto industry was on the verge of collapse, we might not have an American auto industry today," Obama said.
While Romney supported a managed bankruptcy, Portman said Obama used "a political bankruptcy" with the government making decisions, "picking the winners and losers."
"I think people will be really surprised to learn that what Barack Obama has been saying and what his ads say is not accurate," Portman said. "Mitt Romney did have a plan to save the auto industry."
In their last presidential debate Monday night, Romney insisted he supported the car industry that is in his family roots, that he wouldn't do anything to hurt it, and that his approach allowed for government guarantees. Romney wrote a 2008 opinion column for The New York Times that was titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," and Obama cited that Tuesday, saying: 'The people of Ohio don't forget."
Portman, state campaign chairman for Romney, spoke to volunteers at a campaign office in Liberty Township, a suburban area near Hamilton in southwest Ohio. He told them Ohio is "too close to call," and urged them to keep working hard. He later visited a Romney office in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, where the Romney campaign said a telephone bank volunteer made the 45 millionth voter contact of the national "ground game" it says is running well ahead of the 2008 effort for Republican nominee John McCain .
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