By Justin Sink
Mitt Romney defended the TARP bailout program during the Republican debate Tuesday night, describing the program as necessary to "keep the entire currency of the country worth something."
"My experience tells me that we were on the precipice, and we could have had a complete meltdown of our entire financial system, wiping out all the savings of the American people. So action had to be taken," Romney said.
Romney did argue that the program could have been better designed and implemented.
"Was it perfect? No. Was it well implemented? No, not particularly," Romney said. "Were there some institutions that should not have been bailed out? Absolutely."
Romney also argued that funds should not have been used to bailout the auto industry, a position that may not play popularly in Michigan, a state where his father was governor and he hopes will fuel his primary and election chances.
"Should they have used the funds to bail out General Motors and Chrysler?" Romney said. "No, that was the wrong source for that funding. But this approach of saying, look, we're going to have to preserve our currency and maintain America -- and our financial system is essential. "
Romney has previously defended the TARP program, despite criticism from the right that continued through the debate. Rick Santorum railed against the program, calling out Romney and other candidates for their support.
"Well it was the right thing to do," Romney said January on the Neil Cavuto show. "You know, I remember talking to Senator McCain -- and he was in the middle of a presidential campaign -- he said "Look, it is very bad politics to be for TARP. On the other hand, it's the right thing for the country."