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Friday, November 2, 2012

Obama Says Romney Is Being Dishonest About Auto Bailout

President Obama spoke at a campaign event in Hilliard, Ohio, on Friday. Mr. Obama is spending the entire day in the swing state.Damon Winter/The New York Times President Obama spoke at a campaign event in Hilliard, Ohio, on Friday. Mr. Obama is spending the entire day in the swing state.

HILLIARD, Ohio â€" President Obama, returning to full-throated campaign mode after a week upended by Hurricane Sandy, accused Mitt Romney on Friday of dishonesty in claiming that his administration's auto bailout had resulted in jobs moving to China.

Speaking to 2,800 people in a cavernous barn here, Mr. Obama took aim at Mr. Romney for an advertisement his campaign aired in Ohio, which said that Chrysler, under new Italian owners, moved Jeep production to Chi na after being bailed out by the Obama administration in 2009.

“That's not true,” Mr. Obama said as the crowd chanted “liar.” “Everybody knows it's not true. The car companies themselves have told Governor Romney to knock it off.”

The ad, the president said, amounted to a cynical ploy to compensate for the fact that Mr. Romney opposed the bailout. “This isn't a game; these are people's jobs, these are people's lives,” he said.

Saying that the commercial had rattled some employees at the Jeep plant in Toledo, Mr. Obama said, “You don't scare hard-working Americans just to scare up some votes.”

Mr. Obama's counterattack kicked off a day of barnstorming in a state where he is fighting to cling to a narrow, but stubborn, lead in the polls against a strong offensive by Mr. Romney, who plans a last-minute bus tour in the state over the weekend.

In the final days of the campaign, the escalating confront ation over the auto bailout has dominated headlines and news coverage in Ohio and Michigan.

Mr. Romney's campaign countered the president's criticism by insisting that its ad was accurate.

“The facts are clear: despite his false and misleading attacks, President Obama took the auto companies into bankruptcy,” said a campaign spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg. “His mismanagement of the process has exposed taxpayers to a $25 billion loss. And these companies are expanding production overseas.”

Ms. Henneberg said the United States had lost 586,000 manufacturing jobs during Mr. Obama's presidency.

The president was buoyed by a better-than-expected jobs report on Friday. “This morning we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months,” Mr. Obama said, while acknowledging, as he always does, that more work remains.

Mr. Obama was also still riding the crest of endorsements by Mayor Michael R. Bloo mberg of New York City, the former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, and a trip to New Jersey, where the Republican governor, Chris Christie, heaped praise on his response to the storm.

But the show of bipartisan harmony in New Jersey on Wednesday seemed a world away from this chilly Midwestern fairground, where even the minister who offered the religious invocation, Dr. Marilyn Miller, jabbed Mr. Romney for his remarks about the 47 percent.

Warming up the crowd, former Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio characterized a canned-goods drive that Mr. Romney held in Dayton for storm victims as a cynical photo opportunity.

“Let me say something about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: they don't even know how to fake compassion,” said Mr. Strickland, who has emerged as one of Mr. Obama's most pugilistic surrogates.

Urging the audience to vote, Mr. Strickland said Ohio was “the firewall for President Obama.” So much attention has been lavished here in the wanin g days of this election that it sometimes seems like the candidates have been wooing Ohio one voter at a time.

This was the first rally on a day that will take Mr. Obama to Ohio's nooks and crannies. From Hilliard, a farming town of 28,435 northwest of Columbus, he will travel by motorcade, helicopter, and Air Force One to Springfield and Lima for speeches at two high schools.

The Obama campaign has projected steadfast confidence that it will hold on to Ohio, citing polls that show Mr. Obama ahead by a nearly two-to-one margin among the 23 percent of registered voters who have already cast ballots.

If those numbers are accurate, the campaign said, Mr. Romney would have to run up a margin of 54 percent on Election Day just to tie with Mr. Obama. The Romney campaign insists that Democrats are performing below their early-voting levels in 2008, while Republicans are outperforming.