by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
A new poll shows that GOP hopeful Mitt Romney is not being hurt in Michigan over his opposition to the bailouts of U.S. auto companies based in Detroit.
The latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that 34 percent of likely Republican voters said they were more likely to support a candidate who opposed the auto bailouts, while 27 percent said they were less likely to. The poll found 35 percent of respondents said the bailouts did not make a difference to them.
Romney, who is locked in a tight race with Rick Santorum, has been on the defensive over the issue in the state, which is scheduled to hold its primary Feb. 28.
Democrats have sought to remind voters of a widely publicized op-ed Romney wrote in The New York Times in 2008 titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
“GM posted record annual profit today,” President Obama’s reelection campaign manager, Jim Messina, tweeted last week after General Motors announced a $7.6 billion profit for 2011. “Glad we didn’t let Detroit fail as Romney suggested. Never bet against the American worker!”
Other Republicans have criticized the bailouts to auto companies, but Romney’s opposition has been most visible.
He wrote another op-ed in The Detroit News last week in which he argued that Obama should have allowed the two companies to go through a managed bankruptcy.
“The president tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse,” Romney wrote. “I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.”
Democrats have made clear they see the auto bailouts as a weakness for Romney, whose father was governor of Michigan and managed a car company. They have promised the attacks will continue if Romney is the GOP nominee against Obama in the fall.
The PPP survey shows Romney trailing Santorum, with the former Pennsylvania senator garnering 37 percent support of likely Republican voters and Romney receiving 33 percent.
Santorum has said in Michigan that he also opposed the auto bailouts, but has cast his campaign on a populist economic message his advisers hope will appeal to blue-collar workers in Michigan and other Midwestern states.