Romney: Labor board case could cost Iowa jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration on Monday of jeopardizing the very manufacturing jobs the Democratic president plans to promote when he visits an aluminum plant in Iowa.

Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing could stifle jobs at Alcoa in Iowa, which provides materials for the airline manufacturer’s 787 Dreamliner.

“This Boeing decision in South Carolina sent shockwaves across the nation and, if allowed to stand, will result in American job losses and I think you can be sure there will be some losses in Iowa as well as other states,” Romney said in an Associated Press interview.

Obama plans to visit an Alcoa plant in Bettendorf, Iowa, on Tuesday to tout jobs the manufacturer has added in recent months. Company officials say Alcoa has added 240 full-time positions since December, and has plans to fill roughly 60 more by August.

Alcoa spokesman Mike Belwood said the labor board’s battle with Boeing over the South Carolina plant will not have an impact on employment at Alcoa’s eastern Iowa plants, which produce aluminum lithium plate used to make structural components of the Dreamliner.

Romney has used the lawsuit by the board, which he described as “stacked with labor stooges,” to suggest that Obama’s actions as president have hindered the nation’s economic recovery.

The National Labor Relations Board is appointed by the president. The Obama administration said the board’s decision is an independent enforcement action in which the White House played no role.

“The manufacturing sector has led the economic recovery under the president’s leadership,” Obama spokeswoman Amy Brundage said. “Alcoa particularly has been a leader in manufacturing innovation and the president will highlight the success of this American company and its workers at the Bettendorf plant.”

The labor board alleges that Boeing built a second Dreamliner plant in South Carolina to retaliate against union workers in Washington for striking and to discourage future strikes. It is illegal for companies to retaliate against workers for exercising their right to strike. South Carolina has less stringent union laws than Washington, where Boeing’s other Dreamliner plant is located.

Romney, in his second bid for the GOP presidential nomination, is blaming Obama for the sluggish economy and touting himself as the best able to take on Obama.

He said a new Iowa Poll showing him leading narrowly with Republicans in Iowa, where the 2012 presidential caucuses are expected to begin the nominating cycle, is encouraging. But he reiterated his plan to campaign for the potentially long, national fight for the nomination, rather than disproportionately on Iowa, where he spent $10 million on a second-place finish in the 2008 caucuses.

“I am going to be running my campaign against the president,” Romney said. “That’s going to be my focus.”

The poll conducted last week for The Des Moines Register showed Romney with support from 23 percent of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers, followed closely by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who had 22 percent. Bachmann, a three-term congresswoman closely identified with tea party supporters, formally kicked off her campaign in Waterloo, Iowa, Monday. Other candidates were in the low double digits and single digits.

Romney was in New Hampshire Monday and planned to headline an evening campaign fundraiser in New York.

Second-quarter campaign fundraising ends Thursday. Romney declined to say how much he planned to report raising.

“I think we have had strong financial support from people across the country and I’m very pleased with the outpouring of volunteers and contributors,” Romney said.

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