Biden in Toledo: “America is coming back”Written by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
The United Auto Workers’ Local 12 Union hall on Ashland Avenue rang with rowdy hoots and hollers from hundreds of people gathering to see Vice President Joe Biden the morning of March 15.
Young children bearing broad grins perched on their parents’ shoulders, squirming and craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the stage. Middle-aged and elderly people alike waved signs and chanted “Obama’s for the people; we are the people!” in anticipation of Biden’s arrival. Packed between rails separating them from the stage, their energy sounded electrically charged.
Many of them were autoworkers themselves, present to hear Biden celebrate the industry’s revival.
Deborah McGaughey, a 57-year-old employee for the Chrysler Jeep plant, has worked in the industry for 29 years. She said she is personally thankful for Obama’s actions.
“He walked into a mess,” she said. “But he saved my job.”
Biden stressed this point to the crowds, sharing a story from his own childhood about his father making the long walk to his bedroom to tell him that he was going to move 156 miles away to look for a job.
Trapped in a city where jobs had dried up, Biden said, his father explained that once he found a job he’d move Biden and his mother there.
“A lot of you have made that long walk to your kids’ bedrooms,” Biden said. “Because of the actions of the president, things have changed today. Hundreds of thousands of workers are replacing the longest walks with a journey — it’s a journey that ends with workers who are able to go home and say, ‘I’ve got a job.’”
Biden criticized Republican opponents Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for discrediting the success of the auto rescue. He called out Romney for his past prediction that Obama’s plan would make “GM the living dead” and for his 2008 statement that the country should “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
The crowd bellowed “Boo.”
Biden highlighted the fact that Jeep and Chrysler have started hiring thousands of employees and that plants are expanding. He said that the Republicans can’t deny that good jobs are being created so they’re trying various flawed arguments. Republicans have said that the private sector would have stepped in to save the industry, that the plan was just a “giveaway to union bosses” and that Ford Motor Co. would have filled the void if GM and Chrysler failed, he said.
But even Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally has said that had the companies failed, they would have pulled down the whole industry, Biden reminded his listeners.
The Obama administration faced a great deal of criticism before the auto rescue plan was implemented and still does today. Critics say it is unfair for some businesses to go through the bankruptcy process when the government extends aid to others.
Biden said now, though, the rise of the two companies are showing the opponents are “dead wrong” and what Obama did was right.
“This is a man with steel in his spine; he knew that resurrecting the industry wasn’t going to be popular and he knew he was taking a chance. But he believed,” Biden said. “He wasn’t going to give up on a million jobs in the iconic industry that America invented.”
After the speech, Rich DeVore, President of UAW Local 1435, stood outside on the lawn with some of his fellow auto workers. The union supports Biden because Obama supported them “when they were in a pinch,” DeVore said.
DeVore works at Chrysler in Perrysburg and said he sees evidence of the industry perking up first hand. He’s seen 35 new workers get hired within the past two weeks. About 13 others who left town for work elsewhere have been recalled recently, he said.
McGaughey, too, experiences the effect of government policy first hand. She said she liked how Biden called out the Republicans for their actions.
“They don’t care about the middle class,” she said. “Mitt Romney already said he doesn’t care about the poor.”