Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney always had a love for American cars, growing up as the son of a chief auto executive. However, in 2008 the former Massachusetts governor strongly opposed a bailout intended to aid the diminishing General Motors, Chrysler and Ford manufacturers. And now he'll have to explain his reasoning if he wants to dominate Michigan's primary on Feb. 28, according to Reuters.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself, Romney wrote in his 2008 New York Times opinion piece Let Detroit Go Bankrupt. With it, the automakers will stay the course-the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround not a check.
Romney's main argument was that the auto industry would have recovered on its own, and his editorial letter to the New York Times advocated little empathy towards working Americans.
It's just going to be hard for him to explain, and yet he's going to have to continue to make that case or come up with some new answer, Bill Ballenger, editor of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter said to Reuters.
However, Romney is still likely to win Republican support over rivals Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, who have also opposed the auto bailout but have not voiced their opinions on the matter as extensively. But it might be questionable whether or not Romney will triumph over Obama in the fall.
Romney initially proposed a quadruple in federal spending on energy and automotive research during his 2008 presidential bid in Michigan, wishing to bump the budget up to $20 million a year. He also criticized Senator John McCain for suggesting that some lost manufacturing jobs would not return to Detroit, reported Reuters.
In Nov. of that year, Romney argued that instead of getting aid from federal loans automakers should go through the bankruptcy process to cut costs, promoting a hands-off approach.
In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check, Romney wrote in the New York Times.
Instead, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, the government gave billions to Chrysler and GM.
It's good to know that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die, Obama said last week, but the Romney campaign still insists that billions of dollars would have been saved if his advice was followed.
According to Reuters, Michigan has not backed a Republican candidate since 1988, and the bailout could give Obama an advantage when it comes to winning over this state.
I would think Obama gets his fair share of credit, and that would be among all voters-Democrat, Republican and independent, Craig Ruff, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants told Reuters. He won't have an easy time carrying Michigan...but it's certainly a leg up for him.