Mitt Romney has car trouble. No, we're not referring to the notorious 1983 incident in which he forced the family dog to ride in a crate strapped to the top of his station wagon, but a matter likely to hurt him far more with blue-collar voters: his contention that the bailouts of the U.S. automotive industry by both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were a bad idea.
If a speech last week by Vice President Joe Biden is any indicator, the Obama campaign is going to use the auto bailouts as a sledgehammer against Romney, should the latter emerge as the GOP nominee. Rallying a union crowd in Ohio, Biden slammed Romney for claiming that bailing out the Detroit automakers would turn them into the "living dead."
"Gov. Romney's predictions of a living dead? We have now living proof: a million jobs saved, 200,000 new jobs created," Biden said, to cheers. With Romney trying to sell himself as a better steward of the economy than Obama, his demonstrably wrong conclusions about the bailouts are grist for the Obama attack mill (the other GOP presidential contenders also opposed the bailouts, but the Obama campaign is focusing its criticisms on Romney). In 2008, Romney wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that began, "If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye." Not only has the industry failed to vanish, but GM has reported record profits and regained its crown as the world's biggest automaker.