DEFIANCE, Ohio -- Mitt Romney attacked his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, in this rural and manufacturing city Thursday, on education and trade, passing along a report that Chrysler might move all of its Jeep manufacturing to China, which the company has denied.
"I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America, I'm going to fight to make sure trade is fair," Mr. Romney said.
His comments, apparently in reference to the Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, came during an energetic and entertainment-filled rally in the Defiance High School football stadium.
The Obama campaign said the story about Jeep was "totally debunked."
Chrysler Co. issued a statement Thursday that "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It's simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation."
Surprise musical guest Meatloaf belted out an endorsement for the Republican presidential nominee for the Defiance fans.
Meatloaf said he has never taken a public stand but said 2012 is the most important election in the history of the United States.
"One thing you've been taught all your life is never argue politics and religion. This year is different," he said, telling people to argue on Mr. Romney's behalf. He said he worked on persuading three Democrats to switch to Mr. Romney, but succeeded with only two of them, "so two out of three ain't bad," which is the title of one of his hit songs.
Mr. Romney ended a three-city tour of Ohio here. He is expected to fly to another swing state, Iowa, before returning for a rally tonight in North Canton, Ohio.
Speaking in Cincinnati and then the Columbus suburb of Worthington, Mr. Romney stumped the state in the effort to swing battleground Ohio into his column -- as Mr. Obama was simultaneously rallying with supporters in Cleveland.
"Those debates have helped propel my campaign, and they've slowed down the president's, and those are good things for my campaign,'' the former Massachusetts governor told an estimated crowd of about 3,000 after touring Worthington Industries manufacturing plant near Columbus.
President Obama's campaign is at least partly banking on growth of the auto industry in Ohio -- including the promised addition of a shift, 1,000 jobs, and a plant expansion well under way at Chrysler's Toledo complex -- to help him carry Ohio and its 18 electoral votes on Nov. 6. On the campaign trail, he and Vice President Joe Biden have pointed out that one in eight Ohio jobs is tied to the industry, including those at auto parts suppliers.
Mr. Romney opposed the 2009 pre-bankruptcy taxpayer bailout of Chrysler and General Motors that began under President Bush and was dramatically expanded under Mr. Obama. He favored instead allowing the automakers to go through bankruptcy to shed some of their costs while Mr. Obama has argued they would have been unable to find financing to continue operating during that process.
Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Tom Troy is a reporter for The Blade. First Published October 26, 2012 4:00 AM