Pro-Obama super-PAC ad hits Romney on auto bailout opposition

A pro-President Obama super-PAC is targeting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his opposition to the auto industry bailouts in a new advertisement released ahead of the GOP primary in Michigan. 

Priorities USA, which was founded by founder White House staffers to advocate for the president's reelection, said in an ad titled "Bankrupt" that Romney did not want to help the American auto companies based in Michigan in late 2008.

"His message was clear," the ad says of Romney, before quoting the former Massachusetts governor saying "let Detroit go bankrupt."

"Are those the values we want in an American president," a narrator asks at the end of the ad. 

The finances of the American auto companies has emerged as a central campaign issue in the Republican presidential race as the primary calendar has moved to Michigan, where voters will head to the polls, as they will in Arizona, on Feb. 28.

The bailouts originated under former President George W. Bush, but Obama has received strong criticism for his handling of the issue from many Republicans.

Obama's campaign has countered by touting the turnaround of GM and Chrysler as a sign his economic policies are working, arguing that the bailout is paying off as the companies begin to hire new workers.

Democrats have focused much of their campaign fire on the bailout issue on Romney, who penned a widely read op-ed in The New York Times about the bailouts, titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." In another op-ed last week, Romney said Obama should have let Chrysler and GM go through a managed bankruptcy instead of using taxpayer dollars to bail them out. 

Obama's decision to bail out the companies appears to be popular in Michigan.

A poll released this week showed 63 percent of registered Michigan voters and 42 percent of likely voters in the state supported the federal government's decision to assist General Motors and Chrysler, helping Obama to a wide lead over Romney and the other GOP candidates in hypothetical general-election match-ups in the state.

Fifty-eight percent of registered Michigan voters gave Obama a good or great deal of credit for the turnaround of the U.S. auto industry, compared to 37 percent who said he deserved not very much or no credit at all.