Gov. Kasich downplays role of auto bailout in Ohio’s recovery

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio on Sunday downplayed the role of the auto bailout in his state’s economic recovery.

Kasich, a Republican and supporter of Mitt Romney, said that the rescue of auto companies accounted for just 400 of the 112,000 new jobs that have come to Ohio since early last year. 

“We did not grow Ohio’s economy just by relying on one industry, or just one sector,” Kasich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’ve done it by diversifying Ohio, and make it safe for people to come in here.”

Ohio’s unemployment rate is now down to 7 percent, from 8.6 percent a year ago. Kasich said that the state’s recovery had been fueled by other sectors, like information and technology, financial services and healthcare.

Still, President Obama’s role in the auto bailout has become a key campaign issue, and a major part of the president’s pitch for Ohio’s 18 electoral votes. 

A new poll released Sunday showed Obama and Romney tied in the state, though others in recent days have given the president a slight advantage. 

On “Meet the Press,” Kasich questioned the importance of the auto bailout, given that Ohio’s unemployment rate is now well below Michigan’s.

The Ohio governor also predicted that Romney would carry his state – and could do so fairly comfortably.

“The independent voters are trending heavily towards Mitt Romney,” Kasich said. “I’m not sure the election’s going to be as close as what everybody’s talking about today.”