Dems slam Romney for taking 'a lot of credit' for auto bailouts


At issue is $80 billion the federal government loaned to General Motors and Chrysler in a series of controversial bailouts that began under former President George W. Bush and continued under President Obama.

Since the bailouts, the financial health of the U.S. car companies has been a potent political issue, and it is expected to loom large in the coming general-election race between Obama and Romney.

Obama's reelection campaign has sought to turn the bailouts into a political advantage for the president, arguing Obama "bet on American workers" over the objections of critics like Romney. The loans to the automakers were unpopular with wide swaths of voters, but they have maintained popularity in key swing states in the Midwest like Michigan and Ohio.

Campaigning in Ohio this week, Romney said he would "take a lot of credit" for the bailout of the auto companies.

"My own view, by the way, was that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help," he said in an interview with Cleveland television station WEWS-TV.

"And frankly, that’s finally what the president did," Romney continued. "He finally took them through bankruptcy. That was the right course I argued for from the very beginning,"

Obama's reelection responded quickly that the comments from Romney were a "a new low in dishonesty, even for him."

"Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,' but the American people won't let him," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said in a statement released by the Obama campaign. "Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue."

Justin Sink contributed to this report.