DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union launched a $3 million advertising campaign on Tuesday to spur Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, with less than a month to the U.S. election on November 4.
The ads, which feature UAW members talking about lost health care benefits and the loss of manufacturing jobs, will run on television, radio and Web sites in the key manufacturing states of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
More than half of the one million active and retired members of the UAW live in one of those four states, which are U.S. auto manufacturing hubs. All four states are in play in the election, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told reporters.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain said last week that he will pull his campaign organization out of Michigan, a union stronghold of the auto industry.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll also has put Obama 6 percentage points ahead in Ohio, another key state for auto producers that is seeing some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
Gettelfinger said the ads are being placed where they will make the biggest impact.
“Let me be clear, we are not letting our guard down in Michigan in any way whatsoever,” Gettelfinger said. “We do not believe that he has actually pulled out of Michigan. We are going to stay on guard.”
Gettelfinger said he believes the economy and personal pain will be the telling factors in how people vote in the presidential election.
“People are hurting,” Gettelfinger said. “People all along on Main Street are very very worried about what is going on in this country today. We just can’t stand four more years of the same. We have suffered enough for eight years.”
The UAW has seen its membership sapped through market share losses at the U.S.-based automakers that have led to thousands of hourly worker buyouts. UAW membership last year fell 14 percent to about 465,000, its lowest level since 1941.
Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Peter Bohan and Vicki Allen