MITTS COME OFF: Romney Blames Obama For Plant Closure In Allentown; Plant Owner Says Otherwise

MORNING CALL: When Barack Obama visited the struggling Allentown Metal Works in December 2009, the factory’s industrial landscape and its rugged workers made a perfect backdrop for the president to talk about his efforts to jump-start the economy. On Thursday afternoon, its workers gone, its windows boarded up and its lot overgrown with weeds, the century-old building again made a perfect political backdrop. This time it offered Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney a place to tear into the incumbent Democrat’s record on the economy. “This president came here and called this a symbol of hope,” Romney said, standing before a chain link fence dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt. “It is a symbol of failure, failure of his economic policy. He’s out of his depth. When it comes to getting the economy going, it’s just not something he understands.” Obama visited Allentown Metal Works as part of a whirlwind tour of the Lehigh Valley. The debt-addled factory closed in January after years of financial struggles. MORE

RELATED: Allentown Metal Works’ closure in January ended 100 years of manufacturing at the 10th Street factory, but its more recent history was plagued with financial problems. Montgomery County venture capitalist Ed Brill bought the business in 2005, vowing to make it a success story. But that company, BVI Precision Materials, defaulted on a loan and was taken over in 2008 by Allentown Metal Works, which is owned by two investment firms. At the time, it employed about 130 people.  Brill said he thinks Romney is a very bright person, but that it’s hard to blame Obama for the company’s demise. The U.S. has lacked an effective manufacturing policy for decades, he said. “Manufacturing decline in this country has been going on for 20 years,” Brill said. “It is not Republicans, it is not Democrats.” MORE

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