by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
President Obama is hitting Mitt Romney for his opposition to the $80 billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry in the first ad his campaign is airing in Michigan.
Obama’s ad is in response to Romney’s decision to air advertising in Michigan, which the Romney camp believes is in play. It’s part of an effort by Romney to broaden the battleground to Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, three states that have gone for the Democratic presidential candidate in recent elections and that Obama won easily in 2008.
Romney is a Michigan native and his father was the CEO of American Motors, but the Obama campaign believes his opposition to the president’s bailout of Chrysler and GM could hurt him in the state.
“When the auto industry faced collapse, Mitt Romney turned his back,” a narrator says in the Obama ad, called “What He Said.”
“President Obama took a stand for American jobs … and Michigan’s auto industry is back,” the ad continues.
“So remember what Mitt Romney said, and what President Obama did,” the Obama ad concludes. It then shows a clip of Romney saying, “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” which is the title of an op-ed he wrote for The New York Times in 2008.
Romney has accused Obama of misrepresenting his position on the auto bailout, arguing that he favored a “managed bankruptcy” for Chrysler and General Motors and suggesting Obama took his advice. Republicans also say the bailout was not as successful as the president has suggested.
“President Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy,” Romney’s vice presidential running Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during a rally in his home state on Wednesday.
“Taxpayers still stand to lose $25 billion from the president’s politically managed bankruptcy,” Ryan continued. “These companies — Chrysler in particular, we know this story — are now choosing to expand manufacturing overseas. These are the facts. Those facts are inconvenient for the president, but no one disputes them.”
Chrysler and GM did go through a managed bankruptcy, but it included $80 billion in aid from the government that Romney opposed. The Obama campaign argues only the federal government would have provided that aid to the companies amid the financial crisis in early 2009, and that no banks would have stepped up to the plate.
Obama and Romney are also battling in Ohio, where polls suggest Obama holds a consistent lead in a tightening race. Obama’s campaign has played up the auto bailout in that state and believes it has helped the president with voters.
Romney has sought to push back with a pair of ads that suggest GM and Chrysler are now expanding in China and moving jobs from the U.S. The ads have come under criticism from the CEOs of GM and Chrysler, which say they are adding jobs in the U.S.
Obama’s campaign has called Romney’s effort in Michigan a bluff, arguing that Romney is searching for new paths to reach the 270 electoral votes that will be necessary to win the presidency because he is trailing in Ohio. The president’s chief strategist, David Alexrod said Wednesday that he would shave his mustache if Obama lost Michigan, which hasn’t voted for a GOP presidential candidate since 1988.