Detroit paper thanks Obama for auto bailout, endorses Romney

The Detroit News is thanking President Obama for his administration's $80-billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry, but the self-proclaimed conservative newspaper is endorsing Republican Mitt Romney for president. 

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In an editorial published Thursday, the paper said it was not an easy decision to endorse Romney over Obama considering the loans that were given to General Motors and Chrysler in 2008 and 2009. But the newspaper said the former Massachusetts governor would be a better fit for the White House in 2012.

"Don't assume that it was a no-brainer for a conservative newspaper to endorse a conservative presidential candidate," the newspaper's editorial board wrote. 

"We recognize and are grateful for the extraordinary contribution President Obama made to Michigan in leading the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler. Had either of those companies been allowed to go under, Michigan's economic maladies would have become fatal."

"[H]ad Obama done as well with the rest of the economy, it would be hard to deny him a second term," the newspaper said. 

"Obama said himself in a midterm television interview that if by the end of his first term the economy was still broken, he should not be re-elected," the editorial continued. "Well, the economy is still broken, and we have lost confidence in the president's ability to make the necessary repairs." 

President Obama has increasingly hammered Romney for a 2008 op-ed he wrote in the New York Times that was titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." The president has sought to use Romney's article to gain support in Michigan and the critical midwestern swing state Ohio.  

Romney has pushed back against the attacks by arguing that he was in favor of a "managed bankruptcy" for the auto industries. But Obama has said only the federal government had enough money during the economic panic of 2008 to float the car companies loans.

The Detroit News largely agreed with Obama's argument.

"[W]e have said in past editorials that while Romney rightly advocated for structured bankruptcies in his infamous 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' New York Times op-ed, he was wrong in suggesting the automakers could have found operating capital in the private markets."

But the paper said of Romney: "[D]espite his wrong-headedness on the auto bailout, we believe Romney when he proclaims himself a 'car guy.' "

"His father, George Romney, was the head of American Motors before becoming governor of Michigan," the editorial said. "Romney understands the industry, and will shield it from regulators who never tire of churning out new layers of mandates. It is important to remember that the automobile industry is never truly 'saved'; there are always new challenges."

The paper added that it anticipated "that Romney will govern in the same manner as Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a practical leader who shares his background as a business executive.

"Snyder has rapidly set Michigan on the path to revival by applying sound business practices and accountability to government operations," the newspaper said. "We expect that Romney will also employ a results-oriented approach and be ever mindful of his customer, the taxpayer."

The editorial added that "like Snyder, we find Romney to be less partisan than the typical politician, and not bound by rigid ideology.

"The nation will be best served if the entrenched disagreements of the past four years give way to cooperation and achievement," the paper said.