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Romney's joke about father's factory closure falls flat

March 29, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Opponents of Mitt Romney protest outside a recent fundraiser in Los Angeles.
Opponents of Mitt Romney protest outside a recent fundraiser in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

Washington — In seeking to connect to thousands of Wisconsin voters during a conference call Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney decided to break out what he thought was a humorous anecdote about his personal connection to the state.

The only problem was that the story, about his father, George, shutting down an American Motors factory in Michigan in favor of shifting production to Wisconsin, ended up highlighting the very problem that many pundits and voters have with Romney.

"Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan," Romney said during the call. "And so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.”

The punch line, that his father would eventually have to cope with the fallout from the factory's closure and the layoff of more than 4,300 workers when running for governor in Michigan, exacerbated by a school band's inability to play Michigan's fight song instead of Wisconsin's, has been immediately pounced upon by his critics as a prime example of how out-of-touch the former Massachusetts governor is.

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The fact that the conference call was conducted with Wisconsin residents while Romney was in Texas, or that Romney himself has yet to campaign in the state prior to its April 3 primary, certainly doesn't help either.

"File this one under the ever-growing 'Romney wealth gaffes' category," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement soon after the remarks.

"Mitt Romney made light of his father's decision to close a Michigan auto factory. Does he take current Michigan jobs any more seriously?" asked Sara Wallenfang, the AFL-CIO's campaign communications coordinator in Michigan when asked about the matter by the Detroit News.

Romney's campaign also speedily sent out its own response.

“Under President Obama, more Americans have lost their jobs, lost their homes and fallen into poverty than at any time since the Great Depression. It’s clear the Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid talking about Obama’s colossal failures, including ginning up fake outrage about a campaign story from 40 years ago involving Mitt Romney’s father,” the campaign said in a statement.

To listen to Romney's story in full, head over to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: Romney's joke about father's factory closure falls flat

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