Obama: ‘If we win Toledo, we will win Ohio. If we win Ohio, we’ll win this election’Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
President Barack Obama spent his Labor Day on Sept. 3 praising the auto rescue and union workers during a speech at Scott High School.
About 3,100 people gathered to watch the president speak at the rally, which was part of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Labor Day Celebration.
“I wanted to stop here in Toledo to spend this day with you. A day that belongs to the working men and women of America, teachers and factory workers, construction workers and students and families and small business owners and I know we’ve got some proud autoworkers in the house,” Obama told the cheering crowd. Obama has been to Ohio 11 times this year and visited Maumee in July.
In a 30-minute speech, Obama played off remarks his opponent Mitt Romney made in Cincinnati on Sept. 1. “If you have a coach that is 0-23 million (unemployed or underemployed Americans), it’s time to get a new coach,” Romney had said.
Obama said of Romney’s plans for the economy, which include tax cuts for millionaires, “Punt it away. It won’t work. It won’t win the game. You don’t need that coach. That’s a losing season.”
He also said of the recent Republican National Convention (RNC), “I have to say it was something to see. Despite all the challenges that we face in this new century, we saw three straight days of an agenda out of the last century.”
Obama also addressed Gov. John Kasich’s speech at the RNC where Kasich touted Ohio’s job creation rate.
“I guess that the theory was it’s all the governor’s doing, but I think we need to refresh his memory because a lot of those jobs are autoworker jobs,” Obama said.
Without Obama’s auto rescue, GM and Chrysler would no longer exist, he said. Obama also reminded the crowd of Romney’s “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” stance, which would have lost 1 million jobs, he said.
“In communities across the Midwest, it would have been another Great Depression,” he said.
The president also praised “working people” for helping create the cornerstones of the middle class like the 40-hour workweek, pensions, minimum wage and health care.
“You made sacrifices, which is why I don’t understand why these folks have the nerve to talk about you like you’re some greedy special inertest that needs to be beaten down,” Obama said.
Obama also briefly addressed making college more affordable, providing health care, creating renewable energy sources and bringing troops home from overseas. He noted Romney did not address the troops overseas during the RNC.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, whom Obama called one of the best senators in the country, kicked off the rally.
“You’re gonna hear a lot of things on this campaign,” said Brown, who faces Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel in November. “You’re gonna hear actors who talk to chairs”
Brown said from 2000-2010, five million manufacturing jobs were lost. After 2010 and the auto rescue, 500,000 more manufacturing jobs were added, he said.
“Now my opponent and President Obama’s opponent didn’t think we should do the auto rescue,” he said.
After Brown, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who faces Sam Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber this fall, spoke to the exuberant group. Obama also called Kaptur one of the best members of Congress.
“We are all so very grateful and proud, proud to be here today, to be voices for the working men and women of our country and world who demand expression, expression of their way of life, expression in the law of their rights as workers, to dignity in the law wherever they live in this country or on earth. It is an intergenerational struggle,” she said.
She also praised Obama for the auto rescue, saying the auto industry is in the area’s DNA.
Kaptur later compared voting Republican to putting your car in “R” or reverse while saying that “D” stands for drive and Democrat.
Bob King, president of UAW, and Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, also spoke. Both encouraged voters to actively support Obama.
“We remember on Labor Day who has stood behind us, who has supported us,” King said.
“Just tell the truth about Mitt Romney and we’ll be alright,” Trumka added
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis told the crowd, full of union workers, that they were the backbone of the country.
“[Obama] will never give up on you and I hope you don’t give up on him,” she said.
Kenyetta Jones, who has worked at the GM Powertrain Plant for nearly 30 years, introduced the president. Jones was laid off in 2009, but returned to work 13 months later.
During those months, she trained others so they would be prepared when jobs returned, she said, adding that she knew Obama would bring those jobs back.
“We don’t sit around expecting handouts, but we expect our leaders to fight for us, and that’s exactly President Obama did,” Jones said.
After the rally, Sue Paulus of Paulding, Ohio said her favorite part was Obama telling the crowd “don’t boo, vote” when the group decried the RNC.
“It’s telling us not to sit on own hands,” she said.
Sean Mack, a human resources worker out of Maumee, compared the RNC to Comedy Central. He has seen Obama speak several times and praised him, Kaptur and Brown.
“Ohio’s not complete without them, that trio,” he said.
Artist and student Remi Harrington came from Michigan to see the president speak. She accompanied her aunt, a UAW worker. Though Harrington said she understands why the speech was aimed at workers, she would have liked to see the president discuss more concerns that affect single black mothers, like herself.
“Single motherhood is something that needs to be addressed,” she said.
Before the rally, the president ate with three autoworkers at Rick’s City Diner. He stayed at the Toledo Hilton the night before. After the rally, he was set to visit Louisiana and speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Sept. 6.
At the end of his speech, he told the group, “If we win Toledo, we will win Ohio. If we win Ohio, we’ll win this election. If we win this election, we will finish what we started.”