A repossessed home is back on the market in Las Vegas, which was especially… (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images )
WASHINGTON -- When President Obama visits Ohio, a swing state heavily dependent on the auto industry, he says his bailout of American carmakers saved tens of thousands of jobs and argues that Republican nominee Mitt Romney would have “let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Now that he’s heading to Nevada, the swing state hit hardest by the housing crisis, Obama on Saturday morning raised the memory of Romney's similar statements on housing foreclosures.
“I know there are some who think that the only option for homeowners is to just stand by and hope that the market has hit bottom,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “I don’t agree with that.”
Obama didn’t name Romney or quote him directly. But some attuned listeners may recall Romney's interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial board in October 2011. Discussing the foreclosure crisis, he said, “Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”
His words stung many distressed homeowners in the state, and the Obama campaign hopes they haven't forgiven Romney. But it's now clear that Romney's point wasn't simply to let the market hit bottom.
In August, Review-Journal editorial writer Glenn Cook printed the unedited version of the Romney response of 10 months prior:
"There are things you can do to encourage housing,” Romney said, according to the transcript. ”One is, don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure process that has long existed, and as a result, we still have a foreclosure overhang.”
Romney went on to say that he thought the idea of “helping people refinance homes to stay in them is one that's worth further consideration, but I'm not signing on until I find out who's going to pay and who's going to get bailed out, and that's not something which we know all the answers to yet."
Speaking in Las Vegas recently, Romney clearly had changed his tone, talking not about the “bottom” but about how to “reignite” the housing economy, get credit flowing again and spark home sales.
Obama’s solution for continued recovery, reiterated in his radio address Saturday, is for Congress to pass his plan to cut red tape so that responsible homeowners can save thousands of dollars in mortgage payments by refinancing at today’s historically low interest rates.
As Obama heads to suburban Las Vegas on Sunday, he clearly plans to promote his housing plan with voters in the state.
Obama will spend three days preparing for his first debate with Romney, which will take place Wednesday night in Denver.
Romney, who is also doing debate prep, has surely focused on the likelihood that Obama will allude to insensitive comments in the past. The president has his own ill-phrased points in his recent past.
When the two candidates address each other, each will try to avoid such mistakes -- while encouraging his opponent to make another.