Obama touts auto loan success during Maumee stopWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
At least 500 people packed the Wolcott House lawn Thursday morning but they hardly made a sound until about 11:30 a.m.
And then there was no silencing them.
The mere mention of President Barack Obama’s name ignited chant of “Four more years,” accentuated with much whooping, hollering and fist pumping. When Obama took the podium to kick off his “Betting on America” tour, he acknowledged that the chaotic nature of campaign season might make it tempting to tune out political news.
“I understand it’s not always pretty to watch,” Obama said. “There’s been more money flooding into the system than we’ve ever seen before, more negative ads, more cynicism and most of what you read about or hear about in the news has to do with who is up or down in the polls instead of what these issues actually mean for you and for America.”
The Republicans have raised more than $266.7 million for the presidential campaign and the Democrats have raised more than $255.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
‘Betting on America’
Obama continued by saying that he believes in an America where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded through generations.
“I lived it, that’s my biography,” he said. “I had grandparents who served us in World War II… I had a hardworking mom who raised me and my sister right but also had some help so that we could end up going to the best schools in the country even though we didn’t have a lot of money.”
But, he said, this ideal was in jeopardy during the 2008 election. He commended his followers who joined him during that campaign, the folks who had witnessed people who “behaved irresponsibly make out like bandits” just before the economic crisis struck. He assured his listeners that the crisis did not change America’s character — and that his campaign’s mission is to bring back a sense of security that has been lost.
“What’s holding us back from meeting our challenges is not a lack of ideas, it’s not a lack of solutions, but we’ve got a stalemate in Washington between these two visions of where the country needs to go,” Obama said.
He said his opponent believes that prosperity comes from the top down.
“I think they’re wrong about their vision,” he said.
He pointed to loose regulation on Wall Street as the catalyst for the economic crisis. He also called out Romney for a statement he made about “letting Detroit go bankrupt” when the automobile companies nearly failed. The government provided General Motors and Chrysler about $80 billion in loans in 2008 to save them from collapse.
Since then, the companies have declared bankruptcy, begun repaying the loans, started to turn a profit and have rehired many of those laid off during the crisis. All of this came along with employee sacrifices and restructuring. Many of the rehires took pay cuts or surrendered bonuses and extra days off.
“I want goods shipped around the world stamped with ‘Made in America,’” Obama said, later adding, “As long as I’m president, I’m going to be waking up every single day thinking about how we can create more jobs for your families and more security for your communities.”
Obama outlined some of his successes in office, including passing health care reform with the Affordable Care Act, helping homeowners refinance their houses and pulling troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
He invigorated the crowd by naming the reasons motivating him to run.
“I’m running because I believe, in America, nobody should go bankrupt because they get sick,” Obama said. “I’m running because after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nationbuilding at home.”
Above the din of cheering, Obama told his supporters he wants to use half the money the country has used in war to “put people back to work” by rebuilding roads, bridges and schools.
‘A Hell of a Job’
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcy Kaptur were among those who spoke before the president took the podium.
Strickland credited Obama for keeping the country out of a Great Depression-sized crisis and Brown asked his audience to find five undecided friends and “make them (their) projects” for the next few months.
Ina Sidney, a steering column manufacturer, introduced Obama. She has worked at the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg for about 16 years but a few years ago she found herself out of a job. She said she and her co-workers were told to quit what they were doing and leave, and security personnel stood by as they packed up to make sure no one took anything. While that was heartbreaking enough, she said, the worst part was hanging in limbo during those few months before she got her job back. She credits the auto industry loans and Obama’s support of the middle class for her turnaround.
“I think he did, excuse my French, a hell of a job considering the mess he walked into,” she said.
Carol Myers, a 59-year-old Toledo-area resident, said she is also pleased with Obama’s performance thus far. She said he’s kept all of his promises by, for example, passing health care reform and pulling troops from the wars.
Janet Russ Jones, a Maumee resident, isn’t so sure she approves of all that the president has done. She is undecided as to whether she’ll vote for Obama in the election.
“We have to control the spending,” Jones said. “I like the programs he has in mind but sometimes we have to bite the bullet like we do at home.”
The Democratic Party has led presidential elections in Lucas County for years, scoring more than 60 percent of the vote for its candidate for at least the last two elections, according to records at the Lucas County Board of Elections.
‘Promise Gap Tour’
Hours before Obama spoke in Maumee, three prominent Republicans set up in an attempt to defy those numbers. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty addressed supporters of Romney at the Courtyard Marriott hotel in Maumee. The two were joined by Republican Representative Bob Latta.
The event, dubbed the “Middle Class Promise Gap Tour,” began around 8:30 a.m. and focused heavily on Obama’s perceived broken promises to middle-class Ohioans. The speakers discussed issues ranging from health care and the national debt to unemployment and what they described as China’s poor trade practices.
Obama noted during his speech that his administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against China’s trade practices.
“[Obama] is dubbing his tour the ‘Betting on America’ tour. Well, of course, we should all bet on America, but we shouldn’t double-down on Barack Obama,” Pawlenty said. “His presidency has been a losing hand for Ohio and for America; and, I think we should dub his tour “The Broken Promises Tour’ for America’s middle class.”
Highlighted were economic promises the president made during a 2008 stop to the Buckeye State. Pawlenty addressed Obama’s promise to lower the nation’s unemployment rate in the United States and increase economic stability amongst manufacturing and agricultural jobs in the Midwest.
“When the President was running last time he said if he can’t get this economy turned around it should be a one-term proposition. We agree,” Pawlenty said. “He said he would cut the nation’s budget deficit in half. He didn’t cut it in half, he nearly tripled it. They predicted the unemployment rate nationally would go to about 5.6 percent. It went not just to 8 percent or 10 percent, but higher. Another broken promise … And now today he’s going to come through Ohio and talk about the importance of manufacturing when during his time as president, 559,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in America.”
Among the aforementioned suffering Ohio businesses is Nagle Companies, a local refrigerated truck business. Ed Nagle, CEO of the company, said Obama’s presidency has forced him to downsize from 80 to 28 trucks, taking both money and job security away from himself and his employees.
“[Obama’s presidency] has been detrimental, not only to us as a company, but also to all the families out there,” Nagle said.
Latta criticized the Obama administration for not exploring natural gas, oil, nuclear and electrical energy enough as energy sources.
Pawlenty bemoaned the Affordable Care Act, calling the future of health care in America bleak.
The stipulations of the Affordable Care Act include a personal health insurance mandate, (although certain low-income Americans qualify for subsidies), a law that allows grown children to stay on their parents’ insurance until they reach 27 years old and a clause that prohibits health insurance companies from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.
Jindal expressed concern about Obama’s “broken promises,” calling the president’s current tactics a distraction from his political shortcomings.
“The president cannot run entirely on his record so he’s going to try to distract us; but we’re smarter than that,” Jindal said. “We’ve had enough of broken promises. We can’t afford another four more years of on-the-job training.”
Many concerned Republicans shared the same sentiments. Frank Como, a Wood County resident for nearly 30 years, said he was not impressed with Obama’s first term. He said Romney’s background as a businessperson gives him the financial experience to lead the U.S. back to economic success.
“[Obama] spends money on anything and he throws money on anything,” Como said. “I think [businesspeople] have more care about money. In business, you have to have a plan or a policy put in place if you’re going to spend money. I think Romney will look at where money should be spent and how it should be spent.”
A Lucas County resident for most of her life, Sandy Boellner said her focus is less political and more social. While her vote will undoubtedly depend on a variety of social and political issues, she said her biggest complaint against the president is his “pro-choice” affiliation.
“If you don’t have a right to life in this country, what do you have?” she said. “There have been over 50 million babies since Roe v. Wade that would’ve been part of the workforce by now. They would have been a part of Social Security, or helping to support Medicare and contributing to our country.”
As for the Democrats’ historic success in Lucas County? Latta said he surmises that voters are ready for a change.
“We’ve got people between 18 and 29 with a 12.1 percent unemployment rate in this country, and people coming out of school with large debts on top of their heads and a 53 percent unemployment rate right now. What has this president done?” Latta said. “When I go out and talk to a lot of different groups, I’ll ask this one question a lot: ‘How many of you in this room think that your kids are going to have a better future than you?’ and I’ve been to meetings with over 200 people and not one of them raised their hands. This is the first generation in American history that doesn’t believe the next generation is going to be better off.”
After the Maumee stop, the Romney bus hosted a 12:15 p.m. rally in Parma, Ohio, followed by a stop in northeastern Ohio in the Mahoning Valley.
Obama left Maumee for Sandusky shortly after his speech. From there, his campaign traveled to Parma as part of the “Betting on America” tour.
At the end of his speech, many of the audience members ambled away looking dazed and bearing enormous grins. Susan, 70, and Patrick Grove, 71, of Sylvania said they waited in line for more than two hours beneath the blazing sun Monday to secure tickets. Patrick canvasses neighborhoods two to three times a week and Susan makes phone calls for the Democratic Party.
“He’s exhilarating,” Susan said. “He makes you feel rested and inspired, it makes me happy to hear him talk.”