In 2008, at the height of the auto industry’s crisis, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. His message couldn’t have been plainer—or more of a slap in the face to struggling workers in Detroit: His headline was “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Romney called for a managed bankruptcy and opposed a rescue package for the Big Three automakers, writing, “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”
Fast forward to 2012. Detroit is profitable for the first time in years. Romney’s entangled in a Republican primary that’s seen him drop dramatically in the polls, including in his home state of Michigan. Now that he has to face the voters—Michigan’s primary is two weeks from today—Romney’s trying to rewrite history. He argues in an op-ed in today’s Detroit News that “The President tells us that without his intervention things in Detroit would be worse. I believe that without his intervention things there would be better.”
Today, the American auto industry is back on its feet and stronger than it has been in years, and it’s not because anyone listened to Romney and let Detroit go bankrupt. Detroit is churning out new fleets that meet new fuel standards, hiring and re-hiring employees, re-opening plants that closed at the height of the crisis, and investing in its American facilities and workers, all because President Obama made the tough, politically unpopular decision to rescue an industry in crisis—a decision that saved more than 1.4 million American jobs.
Just look at this chart.
It’s not surprising that Michigan voters aren’t buying Romney’s pandering. They’re the ones whose livelihoods were on the line when Romney callously called for bankruptcy. Michigan journalist LZ Granderson expressed a sentiment that’s spreading across the Wolverine State: “Go away.” He writes:
“[Romney] forgot about the people back home who depended on the auto industry to put food on the table, pay mortgages, send the kids to college. He greeted us like family when he needed our votes, but when he left town he treated us like strangers.
“If Romney didn’t think a bailout was the best way to help the state, he should have said that when he came here looking for delegates and let the people at his rallies decide if they agreed with him. Instead he pandered, then kicked dirt in our faces on his way out the door—an all too familiar pattern with Romney” Granderson wrote.