LaHood defends Obama's handling of auto bailouts

Since they were offered by former President George W. Bush in 2008 shortly after the election of President Obama, the auto bailouts have emerged as a hot political issue between the parties. Republicans accused Obama of being a socialist who wanted to take over the auto industry, derisively referring to General Motors as "Government Motors." Democrats countered that Obama stood fast in the face of GOP criticism to save the city of Detroit, which relies heavily on the auto industry, from ruin.

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney penned a widely cited op-ed for the The New York Times in the fall of 2008 that argued against assisting General Motors and Chrysler titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

Democrats have made clear they think Obama's stance will contrast favorably to Romney in Midwestern swing states in a hypothetical general election matchup between the two. The president himself has said in stump speeches that "could have done what a lot of folks in Washington wanted to do" when GM and Chrysler were on the verge of collapse, "which is nothing."

LaHood tried to drive that point home Monday, saying in Detroit according to the newspaper report that the auto industry "will create 60,000 jobs next year."