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GOP candidates critical of auto bailout in last debate before Michigan primary

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Romney quickly returned fire, justifying his support for the Wall Street bailout by saying that he wanted to make sure the economy did not completely collapse. But Romney pointed out that Santorum had not opposed all bailouts, having voted to aid the airline industry following the September 11 attacks.

"You voted for the airline bailout after 9/11, I think that was the right thing to do," Romney said.

Santorum quickly denounced the comparison as "not apples to apples," arguing the government had forced a shutdown of the airline industry in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, called the auto bailout a "violation of 200 years of bankruptcy law" and said the Big Three automakers had adopted "a management system that had become incapable of tough decisions."

Nor did the bailout find any love from Ron Paul, who dismissed Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who has said the bailout was a good thing for the state.

"Thats sort of like a criminal who goes out and robs a bank and is successful, so you endorse it," Paul said.

Instead, the Texas congressman concluded that "bailouts are bad, and we shouldn't be doing it."