Obama campaign joins Michigan fray with TV ad attacking GOP field

President Obama's campaign is attacking the GOP presidential field in Michigan with a new ad that claims the Republicans "turned their back" on auto workers by opposing the bailouts in 2009.

The ad singles out Mitt Romney and his 2008 op-ed, titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," which called for the automakers to go through a managed bankruptcy. 

"Made in America. For generations of Michigan autoworkers it’s more than a slogan; it’s a way of life," says a voiceover in the ad. "But when a million jobs were on the line, every Republican candidate turned their back."

"Not him," the voiceover says, referring to Obama. "Don't bet against the American auto industry. Now, a retooled, restructured industry is back because of the grit and sacrifice of Michigan workers."

The ad comes as Romney and Rick Santorum battle for supremacy in Michigan, which will hold its GOP primary on Tuesday. The contest has become a must-win for Romney, who grew up in the state and is trying to ward off a surge of support for Santorum. 

Romney and Santorum, along with most conservatives, opposed the auto bailouts, and the issue is not expected to play much of a role in Tuesday's primary.

But the Obama campaign has made the bailouts, and the revival of Michigan's auto industry, a centerpiece of its messaging strategy, especially in Midwestern states that could be crucial in the fall.

"Don't bet against the American worker," Obama says in the ad.

The ad was released the same day the Detroit Free Press endorsed Romney. Both the Free Press and its competitor, The Detroit News, endorsed Romney for president, but also devoted some column space to criticizing the former Massachusetts governor for opposing the auto bailout.

"Romney was also dead wrong when he opposed government bailouts for the auto industry (Michigan’s most vital economic engine) in late 2008," the Free Press endorsement said.