(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans have slammed Mitt Romney for his 2008 view that Detroit should "go bankrupt," but the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said Monday his views played a big part in the auto industry's recovery.
"I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back," Romney told WEWS-TV in Cleveland. Speaking after a campaign stop at a metal stamping facility in nearby Euclid, Romney said the industry needed to enter a "managed bankruptcy" process in order to fully recover – and that was what eventually helped American automakers get back on their feet.
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"My own view is that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help," Romney said. "And frankly, that's finally what the president did. He finally took them through bankruptcy."
Responding to the former Massachusetts governor's comments, President Barack Obama's national campaign co-chair Ted Strickland said Romney was trying to "fool" Americans with his remarks.
"Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,' but the American people won't let him," Strickland said in a statement. "His comments today that he will 'take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back' are a new low in dishonesty, even for him. Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue."
Romney has defended his opposition to the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler earlier in the campaign, particularly while battling GOP rivals ahead of the Michigan primary in February.
In 2008 Romney penned a now-infamous op-ed in the New York Times with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," a piece that has consistently been used against him by both his Republican opponents and Democrats looking to re-elect Obama.
The op-ed argued that federal loans weren't the answer to ailing automakers, and that companies struggling to stay afloat should enter a process that would allow them to "shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs." Lending money to the automakers would be tantamount to destroying the industry, Romney wrote: "If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."
In February, he said that Obama eventually "got to the same place I had suggested" by putting GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy - but accused the president of "crony capitalism" by protecting unionized autoworkers during the process.
GM and Chrysler accepted federal loans amounting to $80 billion, though a portion of that came under the administration of former President George W. Bush. Economists make the argument that without the large federal loan, the bankruptcy process would not have been possible since the government was the only entity with the capacity to lend such large sums.
In February, GM announced record annual profit, and regained its position as the world's largest automaker.
Romney said Monday that opponents of putting companies like GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy stalled the industry's upturn, naming the United Auto Workers and Obama as obstacles to progress.
"It was the UAW and the president that delayed the idea of bankruptcy. I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy and finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet," Romney said.