'I am a son of Detroit,' Romney says
February 14th, 2012
12:12 PM ET
6 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.

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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. westward

    Detroit, as if you didn't know already, Romney severely doesn't give a severe rip about you.

    February 14, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  2. Larry in Houston

    a lot of people may not remember when his dad owned american motors – look it up, on google – american motors – it will give you Romney's History – why they ever shut it down, and the whole 9 yards – they didn't want to give their employees raises – & a bunch of other things. the employees done the same work as the GM & FORD people did, in their plants, but received Less. One good thing about American Motors though – they were the First to initiate a "Warranty" to their Product – unlike GM or Ford or Chrysler – but it wasn't for the powertrain thing – it was a bumper to bumper warranty – whatever broke or needed fixed, you took your Gremlin / Javelin / Pacer / Rambler / & etc IN For Whatever it Needed.

    February 14, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    "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
    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! A few thousand is "a lot"??!!! And ALL of them had to be RECALLED!! Not a big problem because there were so FEW out there!! Isn't it a tad early in the day to be so drunk sniffy???

    February 14, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  4. Four and The Door

    They're posting profits and growing because of what Obama did. Get your facts straight.
    Fact is they are posting profits because of bankruptcy and market forces. Are you going to give Obama credit for Ford too? How about Toyota, Honda and Hyundai?

    February 14, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. GI Joe.

    Looks like an old propaganda pic to me. Short sleeves in Februbary weather? I don't think so.

    February 14, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  6. GI Joe.

    Darn - February (correction didn't take first time). Look at the audience in short sleeves.

    February 14, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  7. Dave

    This is such a great Nation, People are really rising up for the Voters in Maine to have their say. Ro money stoled that election like he rigged the Straw by buying votes. LET DETROIT GO BANKRUPT!!!!! Ro money is the fakest, plastic, decieving piece of work that ever ran for Office. & by the way Ro money, GIVE THE 1.3 BILLION BACK THAT YOU TOOK FROM THE US in the 02 games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the Mormon superpack money in the world wont buy you the Whitehouse!!!!!!

    February 14, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  8. Alexalex

    Hes a son of Mexico, who hates on other Mexicans and calls himself the son of wherever he's currently camplaining

    February 14, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  9. Laverne

    You Mr. Romney abandoned Michigan when they needed your support the most and I hope in return they don't support you either. What goes around comes around!

    February 14, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. Anna

    A son of Detroit? Let the auto industry fail? How does he say it with a straight face?

    February 14, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  11. NRC

    What is wrong with bankruptcy? some of the greatest companies in US history have gone through it only to come out stronger. Why does the government have to rescue home owners bad decision? All of this costs me money, I lost big on my home, but I pay for it every month and will keep doing so. Why? because I signed saying that I would.
    You people need to grow up and realize that the government cant fix things for one without hurting another.

    February 14, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |

    Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive. Speak on that "Son of Detroit."

    February 14, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. Pam from Iowa

    Come on MIchigan! Are you going to take those insults from the 1% ?
    Send him packing!!

    February 14, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. American

    Romney wanted to let the American auto makers fail & go bankrupt. Now, he wants their votes?! No thanks.

    Santorum at least represents blue-collar workers, not the white-collar elites from Romney who say anything to pander for votes.

    February 14, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Fact is they are posting profits because of bankruptcy and market forces. Are you going to give Obama credit for Ford too? How about Toyota, Honda and Hyundai?"

    Actually, during this recession and economic downturn, demand for new vehicles has been at some of the lowest seen, which has been empirically observed by respected economists. In fact, there's quite a few out there with the opinion that in light of Amurika's aging vehicle fleet on the road right now and the pent up demand for newer automobiles starting to reach critical mass, they've opined that when that damn bursts, it's likely to help kick recovery into much higher gear...and they think that's going to be soon. You can look these things up for yourself.

    February 14, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  16. Steve, New York City

    Romney is a son of Detroit? Would he be willing to make a $10,000 bet about that?

    February 14, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Dave

    This guy got his rocks off on firing people & then putting millions in the Cayamn Islands. He is not a job creater, he is a job killer. The fact that he denied voters in Maine shows you just how incredibly anti -AMERICAN he truely is. Please let those fine people in Maine vote late & I am sure you will see that State go to Rick. Do not deny peoples right to voice their say, Thats what they do in China & Iran!!!! & Ro money please give the 1.3 Billion back that you took from The Us to fund the 02 Games!!!!!

    February 14, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Santorum at least represents blue-collar workers,"

    I'm pretty sure they didn't put collars on animal hides during the pleistocene epoch.

    February 14, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "A son of Detroit? Let the auto industry fail? How does he say it with a straight face?"


    February 14, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. R

    @ GI Joe
    "Short sleeves in Februbary weather?"

    Since when do "short sleeves" go all the way down to someone's wrists? Take another look at the picture.

    February 14, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |

    "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."
    WRONG!!! You claim to be a businessman, but your prediction didn't actually pan out Willard. Flip flop in 3.2.1........

    February 14, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. fixamerica

    Romney, please stay away from us here in Michigan. You turned your back when we were down, we will turn our backs on your now. We will hold the hands that pulled us up. That hand was the hand of Barack Obama.

    We will cast our votes for him. Move on!

    February 14, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Taran

    @Truth and Four, Spot on as usual.

    February 14, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. Noodle Nose Johnson

    "I am son of Detroit. And I tried to commit Patricide*"

    *the act of killing one's father. Patricide is most often committed by a son against his father, and is associated with delusional thinking.

    February 14, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. ST

    Each day which goes by Romney is proving he is very expert in flip-flopping. He was the son who did not then extend a hand of help, but now he is pretending he knows them well and he belongs to them. Just wait, we will soon hear him telling Latinos that they have the same blood, while he wants illegals Latinos be kicked out of the country.

    February 14, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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