'I am a son of Detroit,' Romney says
February 14th, 2012
12:12 PM ET
2 years ago

'I am a son of Detroit,' Romney says

(CNN) – Though better associated with another state beginning with 'M,' Mitt Romney wants the Republican voters of Michigan to know he is one of them.

He was born in and grew up in the state, and it's the message behind a new campaign television advertisement and op-ed, which was published in Tuesday's The Detroit News. "Michigan has been my home and this is personal," he says in the ad.

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

In both the ad and op-ed, Romney focuses on the auto industry bailout, arguing that it is stifling "innovation, enterprise, and opportunity." The federal government should sell off its automaker stock, he writes in the op-ed.

"The shares need to be sold in a responsible fashion and the proceeds turned over to the nation's taxpayers," he wrote.

CNNMoney: Should the U.S. government sell its shares in GM?

To carry the state which he won 2008 op-ed, Romney needs to pull ahead of Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who has an advantage in recent Michigan polling. Romney will be supported in the state by almost $900,000 of television advertizing coming from the super PAC backing him as he makes the case for his turnaround ability - and against President Barack Obama.

"The indisputable good news is that Chrysler and General Motors are still in business," he wrote in the op-ed. "The equally indisputable bad news is that all the defects in President Obama's management of the American economy are evident in what he did."

Romney found himself explaining "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," the headline of a 2008 op-ed and potentially a tough sell in a region where unemployment reached 16% and still remains above the national average. In the op-ed and on the campaign trail, Romney has argued for restructuring the automakers through "managed bankruptcy," saying that to reform their businesses for the better, "Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check."

"Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself," he wrote in the 2008 op-ed, published in The New York Times. "With it, the automakers will stay the course – the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses."

The bailouts, a product of both the Bush and Obama administrations, resulted in what Romney called "a major taste of crony capitalism, Obama-style."

"American taxpayers have been left on the hook for billions to benefit unions and the union bosses who contributed millions to Barack Obama's election campaign," Romney writes. "We should not be back on a road like the one that brought us Freddie Mac and the housing crisis. It is a road with endless hazards. It is not the American way of making cars."

The president criticized – though not by name – those in Romney's school of thought in a January appearance at the Washington Auto Show.

"And it's good to remember that the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die," Obama said, according to a White House transcript, "because of folks coming together, we are now back in a place where we can compete with any car company in the world."

Earlier this year, Romney found himself defending his comments that government should not "try and stop the foreclosure process" in Nevada – a state which he eventually won with 50% of the vote.

But the picture is different in Michigan, where a weekend poll of likely GOP shows Romney trailing Santorum, 33% to 27%. The difference is within the survey's sampling error.

Romney won Michigan in the 2008 GOP primary by a nearly 10 point margin over Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Romney's ad splices footage of the candidate driving through faded neighborhoods with wistful images of the auto industry's past.

"Remember going to the Detroit Auto Show with my dad," Romney sais in the ad. "That was a big deal. How in the world did an industry and its leaders and its unions get in such a fix that they lost jobs, that they lost their future?"

The ad does not criticize his rivals - which has been the specialty of Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Romney. The group is pumping $640,000 in television advertising into the state starting Tuesday, the organization told CNN on Monday. Previously the group purchased $250,000 worth of airtime, according to CNN's advertising consultant Kantar Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Prominent Michigan Democrats defended the bailout and criticized Romney for "misleading voters" in a Michigan Democratic Party conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

"He is against everything that Michigan is for and even his family name can not cover that up," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. Rep. John Dingell added, "It is clear that Mitt Romney hasn't lived in Michigan in a long time."

The federal government put over $60 billion into two US automakers, General Motors and Chrysler, which has since been paid back. Ford did not receive bailout funds.

Also see:

Romney seeks to unite conservatives

Protestors disrupt Santorum event, get arrested

National Review calls for Gingrich to leave race

Pro-Romney super PAC increases buy in Michigan


Filed under: Michigan • Mitt Romney • Rick Santorum
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Why would a son of Detroit, and a severely conservative moderate liberal, want to destroy the American automobile industry?

    February 14, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Sandy

    Poor Romney, can't even get people of his own state to support him. If he Romney loses Michigan, he should see the writing on the wall and drop out of the race.

    February 14, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Mittens, you certainly are a son of something ... just admit it: You say you should be POTUS because you're such a "good businessman," and yet you would have let the American auto industry die, causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs.

    Loser!

    February 14, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Mr. Moderate

    The UAW lost one third of their membership as a result of this restructuring. I have trouble seeing how it is a payback. I know some will bring up the fact that they were handed an ownership stake as a result of the restructuring, but that is to cover their pension and retiree health care liabilities, you know the things that would have been dumped on the taxpayer if the companies liquidated.

    February 14, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens' words speak volumes as to his contempt for the American worker. He is anti union and anti collective bargaining, but he is a corporate raider and a tax evader. Some say Mittens is a job creator in China.

    February 14, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I wonder how many people in Detroit make $57,000 a day for doing nothing.

    February 14, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Mittens' plans for our country are like what he did to companies while working at Bain:

    1. Hostile takeover (steal the election; he's already proven he's willing to do that with his buying of votes in Maine).

    2. Suck out the assets (lower taxes on the wealthy; eliminate capital gains taxes).

    3. Reduce operating expenses to finance the debt (lower taxes means lower revenues means higher deficit; eliminate social spending, cut education, let infrastructure continue to crumble and decay, lay off public employees).

    4. Take his "fees" for his "expert management services" (see #2 above: he and his millionaire/billionaire cronies would benefit the most from the reduced/eliminated taxes).

    5. Leave the company to go bankrupt (our nation would permanently fall into third-world status, with virtually no Middle Class and an uneducated, sprawling poverty class, desperate to work for 50 cents/day, totally dependent on the charity of those few charitable organizations the right deem "worthy" of their donations).

    6. Move on to the next target company (invest in emerging nations such as China and India, where labor is cheap and regulations are minimal; make further millions and billions, lining their own pockets and chalking up their killing of America to the "free market correcting itself").

    February 14, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think Mittens should flood the media market with $15 million in negative ads, just like he did in Florida. $15 million for 50 delegates, and Mittens claims to be a businessman. What a tool he is.

    February 14, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    Wire Palladin, S. F.
    Why would a son of Detroit, and a severely conservative moderate liberal, want to destroy the American automobile industry.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    No, they did a pretty good job of that themselves. And then after $60 billion of taxpayer money they still went bankrupt. Trying to bail them out was a mistake. Mitt Romney was correct.

    February 14, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  10. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    "And it's good to remember that the fact that there were some folks who were willing to let this industry die," Obama said, according to a White House transcript
    =======================================================================================
    More lies from the Liar-in-Chief. The auto industry would NOT have died but been kept alive through the bankruptcy system that handles these issues EVERY DAY in this country. Obama took them over, in violation of countless laws and the Constitution, for one reason and one reason ONLY, to SAVE THE UNIONS, which in turn line his pockets with campaign money. The Obama circle of corruption continues.... at the taxpayers and GM bondholders expense.

    February 14, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. JD in Moraga, CA

    A "son of Detroit"? Really? More like "red-headed step-child.

    February 14, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. Drafter31

    No One But Paul Money Bomb starting today...Please donate if you can...

    Let's send Dr. Paul all the way to Tampa, FL!

    February 14, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    go ahead Mittens..talk your way out of the "let them go bankrupt" comment. We'll sit back and enjoy the show

    February 14, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Why would a son of Detroit, and a severely conservative moderate liberal, want to destroy the American automobile industry?"

    Because they've started making a lot of electric cars.

    February 14, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "No, they did a pretty good job of that themselves. And then after $60 billion of taxpayer money they still went bankrupt. Trying to bail them out was a mistake. Mitt Romney was correct."

    They're posting profits and growing because of what Obama did. Get your facts straight.

    February 14, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Four – Once again you are wrong, but at least you are consistent.

    February 14, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Has anyone else heard about Mittens buying caucus votes in Maine?

    February 14, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. Voice of Reason

    Funny – Detroit doesnt seem to reciprocate. Santorum's leading Mitt in the polls in Mitt's so-called 'home state'. Maybe railing against the bailout (which worked for Detroit), or commenting, 'Let Detroit fail' werent such good ideas after all. It'll take some real Romney-esque double-speak and flip-flopping to get away from those skeletons.

    But on the plus side, his PACs will spend more money, leaving less available for other races further down the road.

    February 14, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Ann

    THINK AGAIN – said the following line that just really sums up Mittens in a nutshell – what a hoot!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mittens, you certainly are a son of something ... just admit it: You say you should be POTUS because you're such a "good businessman," and yet you would have let the American auto industry die, causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs.

    Loser!

    February 14, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. Barry Marson

    Michiganoians, put this clown in Office, or at least have him win the state and see what will come of your auto industry. He has already shown and told you what he would have done if he were president.
    You people of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana would be CRAZY to vote for this liar, and chief Flip Flopper. I HERE WARNING YOU, VOTE ROMNEY, AND SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCIES.

    February 14, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  21. westward

    Just go away, Mitt Romney. You could never relate to the middle class even if you had to. All the middle class are to you are expendable assets whose jobs you can outsource for pennies on the dollar.

    February 14, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. kakaraka

    Yeah right, you are the son of Detroit but you wanted for Detroit to bankrupt and that President Obama should not bail them out to save the auto industry. Do you know the financial consequences your actions should have on middle class families and workers as a result of the bankrupcy? What a loser. Go away from Detroit Mitt.

    February 14, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The federal government's stake in Detroit's automakers is stifling "innovation, enterprise, and opportunity,"
    ------------------------
    The people of Detroit would beg to differ.

    February 14, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    17.Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Has anyone else heard about Mittens buying caucus votes in Maine?
    ------------------------
    Just Maine Wire?
    Is he emboldened enough to be buying them directly or is he still using one of his Super Pacs or puppet masters to broker the transaction?

    February 14, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  25. she be crazy

    We all know that Mitt will do another flip flop and say his words were taken out of text. He will suddenly be the candidate that would have saved GM from going bankrupt. But really, even if he wins this state in the republican primary, does he really think the state overall would support him come the general election?

    February 14, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
1 2 3 4 5