Romney campaign aide claims auto bailout was Romney's idea

One of Mitt Romney's top advisers said Saturday that President Obama's decision to bailout Chrysler and General Motors was actually Romney's idea. 

"[Romney's] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them to hear that," Eric Fehrnstrom, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said.

"The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney's advice."

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The claim appears to be a shift from Mitt Romney's November 2008 op-ed in The New York Times, headlined, "Let Detroit go bankrupt."

But on Saturday, Fehrnstrom pointed out that in the op-ed, Romney called for a "managed bankruptcy" to get the auto companies back on stable financial footing.

"The fact that the auto companies today are profitable is because they've shed costs," Fehrnstrom said. "The reason they shed those costs and have got their employee labor contracts less expensive is because they went through that managed bankruptcy process. It is exactly what Mitt Romney told them to do."

But during the primary campaign, Romney repeatedly attacked Obama for lending billions of dollars in government money to the auto companies.

In a February op-ed in The Detroit News, Romney called Obama's auto bailout “crony capitalism on a grand scale.”

“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.”

Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, accused Fehrnstrom of distorting Romney's record.

“GM and Chrysler are in existence, creating jobs, and posting some of their most profitable quarters in history today because President Obama bet on American workers," Smith said in a statement to The Hill. "If Mitt Romney had had his way, the American auto industry and the millions of jobs it supports would cease to exist. Dishonesty and distortions are nothing new for the Romney campaign, but they can’t change this simple fact.”

Fehrnstrom made the comments during a panel discussion Saturday morning hosted by The Washington Post