Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been criticized by both parties for his infamous comments that the U.S. should “let Detroit go bankrupt.” Yet that did not stop him Monday from trying to “take a lot of credit” for the U.S. auto industry’s turnaround.
A Cleveland campaign stop
Mr. Romney made his comments in Cleveland, Ohio, during a campaign whistle-stop. In an interview with Cleveland’s WEWS-TV, he said:
“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy. And finally, when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.”
‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’
However, Romney made his thoughts on the industry bailout known in his 2008 New York Times editorial, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” In that article, Romney said that bailing out the auto industry would kill them finally and irrevocably:
“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.”
‘A bit exaggerated’
Autoblog said, “Through the lens of hindsight, we know that statement was a bit exaggerated.” Since the bailout, Chrysler and GM have both bounced back and posted impressive profits. GM recently regained its title as the world’s largest automaker.
A year after his editorial, Romney again bashed the bailout, this time crossing party lines to give former president G.W. Bush some of the blame.
He said, during a Larry King show interview:
“Bailout of enterprises that are in trouble, that’s not the right way to go. I know President Bush started it with the auto industry. I thought it was a mistake.”
Chrysler and GM both eventually did take the bailout money, which got them through managed bankruptcies. The federal judge who presided over Chrysler’s restructuring said the company would not have made it without the bailout money because no other entity could afford to loan the kind of money needed to facilitate the turnaround.
Obama campaign responds
President Obama’s re-election campaign wasted no time in responding to Romney’s remarks, which were characterized as an attempt to deceive the public and to capitalize on the efforts of others.
Ted Strickland, the Obama campaign’s co-chair, wrote:
“Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ but the American people won’t let him. Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue.”
Important swing states
According to the Detroit News, the auto industry bailout is an important issue in Ohio and Michigan. Both are swing states, crucial in the upcoming election.