WASHINGTON -- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka assailed Mitt Romney on Monday for his campaign's recent criticism of President Barack Obama on coal and auto issues, saying Romney has been distorting the record out of "desperation" in key Midwestern states like Ohio.
"In what can only be explained by desperation, Mitt Romney is swinging for the fences in an attempt to mislead coal miners and now airing a baffling and shady TV ad, somehow trying to tarnish President Obama's rescue of the auto industry," Trumka said on a call with reporters.
As HuffPost reported Sunday, the Romney campaign quietly released a misleading television ad attacking Obama on the rescue of the auto industry during the financial crisis. The ad said the president "took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy" (true, but that was Romney's plan as well), and noted that the Detroit News actually endorsed Romney over Obama (but failed to mention that the editorial cited Romney's "wrong-headedness" on the auto rescue).
Romney wrote a now-famous op ed in The New York Times in 2008 that ran under the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," in which he argued for federal guarantees of private-sector loans rather than direct government aid. Many experts, including those involved in the crisis, believe the auto makers would not have survived under Romney's plan. The candidate has spent the past several months trying to spin the auto rescue in his favor.
Trumka also blasted Romney for portraying himself as a friend to coal miners. Coal is a leading issue in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where operators have played up the idea of the Obama administration waging a "war on coal" through regulations, even though drops in coal production can be attributed to other factors, like competition from natural gas.
Trumka, a third-generation coal miner himself, said the coal industry was waging a misinformation campaign to aid the Romney campaign, and he said a Romney administration would do little to see that safety regulations for miners are enforced.
"Mitt Romney says coal country his his country. Well, he's wrong -- it's ours," Trumka said. "Mitt Romney doesn't know about getting his hands dirty, and he sure doesn't know anything about coal mining."