* Outsourcing issue resonates loudly in hard-hit Ohio
* Campaign ads target shift of U.S. jobs to China, India
* Voters see job creation as Congress' biggest job in 2011
By John Whitesides
LORAIN, Ohio, Oct 13 Hoping to tap into deep
voter anxiety about unemployment and the stumbling economy,
candidates in both parties have launched a wave of new attacks
accusing their rivals of helping ship U.S. jobs overseas.
On the campaign trail and in television ads ahead of Nov. 2
elections, dozens of Democrats have charged that Republicans
support free-trade deals and tax breaks for corporations that
cleared the way for the migration of U.S. jobs to foreign
Republicans have countered with ads in 10 House of
Representatives districts accusing Democrats of sponsoring jobs
overseas by backing tax breaks for clean energy that mostly
went to foreign companies in the $814 billion stimulus bill.
The raging ad war reflects the high stakes for both parties
in a campaign dominated by the high unemployment rate. A recent
NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found voters believe the shift of
U.S. jobs to foreign countries was the biggest reason the
economy has struggled.
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It is a topic that resonates loudly in economically ravaged
battleground states like Ohio, where unemployment exceeds the
national average and ailing towns like Lorain have seen
thousands of manufacturing jobs disappear.
"This is the big issue here," said Anthony Giardini, head
of the Lorain Democratic Party and a lawyer who has represented
companies and unions on both sides of the outsourcing battle.
Lorain County has suffered a series of major plant closures
and cutbacks in recent years, with manufacturing jobs heading
overseas and others moving to non-union areas while some
companies shut down under pressure from foreign competition.
"We've lost a lot of our heavy industry," Giardini said.
"Many of those jobs aren't coming back. All we want is as close
to a level playing field as we can get and right now we can't
In a nearly deserted shopping mall amid the empty lots and
vacant storefronts of Lorain, voters said they worried the
United States was falling behind economic rivals like China and
"The jobs are gone, the factories are closed. It's sad,"
said Jennifer Trimmel, an unemployed nurse from nearby Elyria.
"People can't afford to buy the products that are made here so
now we have to buy products that are made somewhere else."
The outsourcing issue could be a difference-maker in Ohio
-- home to a half-dozen competitive House contests, a Senate
race and a tight governor's election -- and other
recession-weary states as Republicans fight to regain control
A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Wednesday found voters think job
creation will be the biggest task for Congress in 2011, and
more than half believe a reduction in the national unemployment
rate of 9.6 percent would be the best sign the economy is
Television ads in dozens of campaigns from California to
Pennsylvania have focused on outsourcing, with images of
foreign workers illustrating the threat from rising economies
"Sharron Angle -- a foreign worker's best friend," declared
the narrator of an ad for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid
of Nevada. The ad said Angle, a Republican Tea Party favorite,
supported tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has attacked
Republican rival Carly Fiorina for laying off employees and
outsourcing thousands of jobs when she was the boss at
Fiorina, who called Boxer a hypocrite, challenged her to
return any campaign contributions she has received from
businesses that outsourced jobs.
Democrats have pressed the attack on outsourcing since last
spring, when Mark Critz used the issue to help win a special
House election in Pennsylvania.
Senate Democratic campaign committee spokeswoman Deirdre
Murphy said Republicans "cannot be trusted to protect American
jobs when they support policies that ship American jobs
overseas or have a record of shipping jobs overseas
House Republicans have responded to the Democratic attacks
with their own series of ads focusing on Democratic support for
the economic stimulus bill, which they said included tax breaks
for clean energy that mostly created foreign jobs.
"Jobs in China, not North Carolina," said an ad attacking
Democratic Representative Mike McIntyre, complete with images
of Tiananmen Square.
Republicans point to reports as much as 80 percent of the
grants for renewable energy programs in the stimulus bill went
to foreign companies with workers in China and South Korea.
"After months of falsely accusing Republicans of
outsourcing, Democrats are clearly upset to discover that they
are the only ones guilty of such a charge," Republican House
campaign committee spokesman Paul Lindsay said.
Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland is seeking
re-election and he and his Republican challenger, John Kasich,
have battled fiercely over jobs and outsourcing. Strickland
supporters greet Kasich at campaign rallies with signs reading
"Kasich = Outsourcer."
Strickland aired an ad accusing Kasich of signing off on
moving Ohio jobs overseas as a board member of Elyria-based
medical equipment maker Invacare Corp. The ad, which featured a
Lorain woman whose husband was laid off, drew criticism from
the company and local business leaders.
Kasich's campaign called the ad "a cheap shot." Invacare
said the move had bolstered its bottom line enough that it
could ultimately hire more Ohio workers.
Democratic U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, who represents
the Lorain area, was backed by an ad from the National
Education Association accusing Republican challenger Tom Ganley
of supporting outsourcing by signing an anti-tax pledge on
Ganley, a car dealer who poured millions of his own money
into the race, called the attack "a bald-faced lie" and said
Sutton had proved in Congress she had no idea how to create
Sutton, however, appears to be in good shape in her
Democratic-leaning district. Ganley, who has denied a sexual
harassment claim against him, has canceled his planned
broadcast ads to focus on less expensive cable ads.
Many voters in the Democratic stronghold of Lorain said
they were not sure either party had a solution for the region's
dwindling job base.
Carla Ball, a restaurant worker whose unemployed husband
has been working temporary jobs, said she did not blame
President Barack Obama for the ailing economy but worried about
the future for her four kids.
"What's it going to be like for them in a few years?" she
said. "We live paycheck to paycheck now. The frustrating thing
is that nothing seems to happen very fast."
(Editing by Bill Trott)