Obama: 'We might not have an auto industry’ if Romney had been president

President Obama delivered an extended riff on his administration’s handling of the $80 billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry during his second campaign appearance of the day Tuesday in Ohio.

Switching the order of his “Romnesia” stump speech attack, in which he lists alleged shifts in Romney’s positions and then offers his healthcare law as a cure, Obama focused more extensively on the auto loans than he did at an earlier rally in Delray Beach, Fla.

"Last night, Gov. Romney looked you right in the eye and tried to pretend that he never said ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ ” Obama said in a speech to supporters in Dayton, Ohio.

“He tried to explain that somehow I was taking his advice," Obama continued, adding that if Romney had been president in 2008, the U.S. “might not have an auto industry today.”

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The auto bailouts were first initiated under former President George W. Bush. Critics of the program have noted that the federal government still owns stock in GM, which conservatives have derisively referred to as "Government Motors." The Treasury Department has also said the federal government is unlikely to recover the money that was given to parts of Chrysler that were not included in a deal with Italian automaker Fiat to purchase the Detroit-based company.

But for the better part of a year, Obama has used the bailouts in Midwestern swing states like Ohio to argue that he was willing to make unpopular decisions to revive the U.S. economy.

"It wasn't popular when we did it,” he said Tuesday in Dayton. “It wasn't even popular in Michigan and Ohio."

At his earlier event in Florida and in last night's third and final presidential debate, Obama referenced the title of Romney’s 2008 New York Times op-ed about the bailout, in which the former Massachusetts governor argues he was suggesting a “managed bankruptcy” auto industry. But Democrats have fixated on the title of the article, which Obama used Tuesday to argue Romney was making another flip-flop.

"If you say that you love American cars in a debate, but you wrote an article called 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,’ you might have Romnesia,” Obama said to cheers during the Delray Beach rally.

As Obama was speaking in Ohio, Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), were simultaneously addressing supporters in Nevada. 

Romney did not mention the auto bailout in his remarks, focusing instead on increases in the price of gasoline he attributed to Obama.