President Obama decries Mitt Romney’s ad on the auto bailout

HILLIARD, Ohio – President Obama, as he makes last-second appeals to voters in this key swing state, ridiculed Mitt Romney and said his Republican rival was misleading voters over recent ads about the auto industry bailout.

Obama, commenting directly for the first time on ads Romney has run in Ohio and Michigan suggesting that Chrysler will move jobs to China, said that Romney was trying to “scare hard working Americans to scare up votes.”

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The battle lines in Ohio have formed around the auto industry and a federal bailout that Romney largely opposed in an op-ed in The New York Times headlined, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

Romney in recent days has taken out radio and television ads that say that Chrysler, one of the companies that received federal bailout money, is “going to build Jeeps in China.” Chrysler has vigorously disputed that any production is shifting from North America to China. No jobs are being transferred, the company has said, and any additional work in China is related to demand for additional cars that would be sold in China.

“You got folks who work at a Jeep plant who have been calling their employers worried, asking ‘Is it true that our jobs are being shipped to China,’’’ Obama said at a rally at the Franklin County Fairgrounds this morning. “The reason they are making these calls is because Governor Romney ran an ad that says so. Except, it’s not true. Everybody knows it’s not true. The car company themselves told Governor Romney to knock it off!”

Romney has stood by the ads.

Obama and Romney are both spending much of their time in Ohio today, the state that is seen as the most crucial in deciding the outcome of the election. Obama’s rally in Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, was lively but not packed. About 2,800 people attended, according to the local fire marshal, but there were large empty spaces at the fairgrounds.

Romney’s rallies in recent days have also drawn sparser crowds, in part, perhaps, because voters have become fatigued by the election and their attention has been diverted by Hurricane Sandy, which struck much of the East Coast earlier this week.