May 10th, 2012
08:25 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama hits Romney with 'Etch A Sketch'

(CNN) – President Barack Obama labeled presumptive challenger Mitt Romney's comments that took credit for the auto industry's recovery as an "Etch A Sketch moment."

"I think this is one of his Etch A Sketch moments. I don't think anybody takes that seriously," Obama said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" that aired Thursday, referencing the now infamous language used by a top Romney adviser in March.

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On Monday, Romney said "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back."

The former Massachusetts governor and all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee said it was his view that the auto companies should go through a managed bankruptcy before government intervention.

"And frankly, that's finally what the president did. He finally took them through bankruptcy," Romney told WEWS-TV in Cleveland.

However, in 2008 Romney penned an op-ed in the New York Times with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" that is often cited by Democrats and the Obama re-election campaign as proof Romney would have allowed General Motors and Chrysler to fail.

"People remember his position, which was let's let Detroit go bankrupt," Obama said in Thursday's interview. "Had we followed his advice at that time, Chrysler would have gone under and we would have lost a million jobs throughout the Midwest."

Romney's op-ed argued against federal loans for ailing automakers, and instead suggested a process that would allow them to "shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs."

"If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye," Romney wrote.

More recently he said Obama "got to the same place I had suggested" by putting the companies through bankruptcy. But he also accused the president of "crony capitalism" because of protections issued to unionized autoworkers during the process.

GM and Chrysler accepted $80 billion in federal loans as part of the auto bailout, a portion of which came under the George W. Bush administration. Economists argue the federal loan ensured a successful bankruptcy process.

In February, GM announced record annual profit, and regained its position as the world's largest automaker.

- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Paula

    @llya...trying to take the high road. Huh. Don't bother. It's too late. Repubs have been exposed for exactly who they are an it ain't pretty. As usual, it's okay for Repubs to be vitriolic but not anyone else.

    May 10, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  2. ST

    Romney and his followers should learn how politics is played. No one can enter the swimming-pool without knowing how to swim. We all know that Romney is not a politician, he is a businessman. How on earth he thinks he can play politics while, it looks like, he is not aware how it is played.

    May 10, 2012 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  3. asdf

    The use of the phrase "one of his etch-a-sketch moments" was ingenious. He basically said (which is true) that "this is just Mittens being Mittens."

    May 10, 2012 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. !ST SGT

    I take him seriously. This is exactly what you should have done in place of spending 6 trillion dollars in bailouts. GM would have survived just like Chrysler did. Bamkruptcy is not the death penalty but it might have brought the company back to the U.S. Instead you instilled with the taxpayers money that they stay abroad keeping many jobs overseas. Really bright of you, right Obama? Or was this what you had planned?

    May 10, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. claude shepherd

    i am sorry that i'm so hard on the gop party but they cry so much that i can't help my self instead of doen thear job they sit back and cry and say no about every thing

    May 10, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    If it kills union jobs, then the Grand Old Tea Party is for it.

    Letting Detroit "go bankrupt", not "go into bankruptcy" would have killed tens of thousands of union jobs. Romney is trying to shift his position by hoping you do not notice the subtle difference in language.

    Nice try, Mitt. But, we gotcha.

    May 10, 2012 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. fernace

    It's hard to believe Romney took credit for the auto industry bail out w/a straight face! It must have been a bad joke, right? The way Mitt has been behaving lately, w/his campaign bus outside Obamas campaign arena & statements such as this, it seems he wants to ride the Presidents coat tails! Perhaps if he abandoned the ridiculous Paul Ryan budget, & acted like he cares about the average American, I'd take him more seriously! That budget tells me he doesn't, as it will actually increase our debt, leave people w/out safetynets, women w/out healthcare & our kids education gutted! Forward w/Obama or Back to 1912 w/the GOTP!? I choose Forward!!

    May 10, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. steven harnack

    Notice that the first two things that REomney wanted to cut were people's jobs and their pensions. I see a lot of conservatives sneering at Social Security, saying that people should take the responsibility for their own retirement. How can you do that when at some time late in your life somebody like Romney comes along and snatches away the pension that you have worked all of your life for?

    May 10, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    What's next after taking credit for saving the auto industry? Taking credit for Bin Laden? Ending the Iraq War?

    The only credit that Mitt Romney deserves for achievemnts during the Obama administration is for his help in connecting the administration with the people who helped Romney craft the MA health care law.

    May 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  10. WayneK

    Ilya: as opposed to what – the vile, vitriolic comments Republicans (like Nugent, anyone on Fox) make about the President? And was it different when Santorum, et. al., said the same thing? Or maybe I missed your comment condemning Republicans for using the exact same reference.

    May 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Are you kidding me?

    I see willardhas se people from his staff writing posts here trying to slam our president for doin the right thing.

    History holds the truth and it shows that Willard is a joke and nothing will erase the words he wrote about the bailout.

    Anyone who believes he deserves credit for the recovery when he opposed it should have their heads examined. I can't wait for the townhall debate!

    May 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  12. Are you kidding me?

    Next thing he will take credit for killing Bin Laden, curing cancer, and establishing a moon base.

    May 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. Four and The Door

    wow! This Mittens guy is unbelievable.....taking "credit" for the success of the auto bailout? does he not think that we remember his opeds in the NY Times stating they should be allowed to go bankrupt?
    But they did go bankrupt. And they were liquidated, And they were managed back into business. Just like he said. Where were you during all of the pkbkr? The only difference was dragging the American taxpayer into this mess to be screwed out of $38 billion by Obama.

    Romney 2012

    May 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. babs

    Romney is a gutless liar who has nevr ever exercised any courage in politcal life. He is a shell of a man playing a financial shell game.

    May 10, 2012 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. Russ in Md

    Larry L
    Russia is still a 1st world power (2nd only to the United States) that can destroy the world with its nukes several times over and our political views of each other are not what you would say are on friendly terms. Iran is an ant, China's only claim to fame is the size of its military, and North Korea is a lot of hot air. I would say that yes Russia is the greatest threat to the U.S. Now prove me different.

    May 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  16. wlc

    Romney insults the American public with his tactics in this election. I as an American find his ways so offensive that it angers me. I can not believe such a liar can behave as he does and we as Americans do not call him on it and demand that he explian why we should believe anything he says.

    May 10, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |

    You really have to be a real idiot or simply a republican to buy into Romney`s take on reality. How is it possible that one`s hatred not only blinds the forward thinking of an individual but also allows that individual to alter past realities. Who buys this crap-repubs

    May 10, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  18. PTNY

    They are turning out to be like a bunch of "Willard" Wonka spoiled sniveling little girls. OMG!
    Everything good the President is involved in has an attempt be tarnished, condemned, distorted, taken away, copied in some way by the Republicans, just like little girls.

    I'm happy Obama has bowling sized balls.

    May 10, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. RomNuts

    Methinks Romney hath overdosed on his own Kool-Aid. Next he'll be trying to take credit for Etch-a-Sketch sales skyrocketing ... oops, wait – he actually can take credit for that!

    May 10, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. Four and The Door

    Ol' Yeller
    You may not agree with President Obama on everything, but you have to give the President credit... the country didn't go under and had GM been allowed to go under... it is likely the country would have been in such worse shape we would have never recovered, or at least would not be where we are today.
    Yes, Obama needs to take credit for where America is today. $16 trillion in debt with existing policy pushing that number nowhere but up. Unemployment above 8% for those still determined enough to try and work. Housing foreclosures backed up for a decade. GDP growth very very very low. And American companies taxed among the highest in the world forcing them overseas to try and stay competitive. Yes, Obama gets credit for this.

    Romney 2012

    May 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. Dean

    Obama is full of crap and pissed off because every day he comes one day closer to being a one-term president.

    May 10, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. Nick-o

    Mitt's constant stuttering tells me he rambles through flimsy arguments evey time he opens his mouth. Frankly, it' scary. It's like he doesn't know how he's going to end a sentence once he starts one. With this election being about jobs, why would we ever support a man who is well known for slashing companies in half and sending jobs overseas so his rich buddy investors....'er I mean job creators (yeah right) can reap profits from their investments.

    May 10, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  23. asdf


    You can disagree with the President's handling of GM, but you can't agree with Romney that it was his work that saved it AND complain about it as Obama's failure. They are actually 4 contradictory positions: that Romney came up with a good plan, that Obama followed it, that Romney should be credited with a win, and that Obama should be credited with a loss. It makes no sense.

    May 10, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  24. ThinkAgain

    "If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye," Romney wrote.

    How anyone can think that Mittens' can take credit for what President Obama did to save the American auto industry is beyond me.

    May 10, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Romney is a bad joke! His whold campaign is an etch-a-sketch moment and this is the best the Greedy Old Pigs could come up with. Pathetic!

    May 10, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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