May 10th, 2012
08:25 AM ET
2 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. asdf

    @Russ in MD

    There's a reason that there hasn't been a war between first world countries since WWII – our economies are too intertwined now. Russia may not like us, and they may have a large military, but attacking us would not be in their interest. We have much more to worry about from countries with nothing to lose.

    May 10, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. Ilya

    @WAYNEK, I don't condone it from either side. I was merely making an observation. I also was referring to commenters on these CNN blogs, not fox news or ted nugent or santorum.

    May 10, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. harry zoyster

    With his announced support of gay marriage, Obama is now King Flip-flopper and his Etch-a-sketch comments have no merit and show, once again, how big of a hypocrite he is. You're done, Barry.

    May 10, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. ThinkAgain

    @Four and yada yada: "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."

    The debt rose dramatically because President Obama had the stones to put the cost of two unfunded wars and unfunded Medicare Part D on the books.

    The housing crisis was a direct result of Republican deregulation efforts and all the unethical and criminal activity of mortgage lenders who wrote mortgages to people who should never have qualified.

    GDP growth is slow in part because Republicans have done everything they can do make President Obama's policies (and therefore our country) fail.

    And American corporate rates – EFFECTIVE rates – are the lowest in 50 years. They've been moving companies overseas because they care more about short-term profits than the long-term prosperity of our country (i.e., they are lazy, unpatriotic JERKS).

    THAT is what YOU and YOUR party can get credit for. And if you're dumb enough to vote for Mittens and the very same policies that are PROVEN FAILURES, then I take pity on you.

    May 10, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. N. Shapiro

    Romney – his own people came up with "etch a sketch" for him
    actualy he is more of a hot air balloon, no real substance, and floats with the wind.

    May 10, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Gimmeabreak!

    Romney (and millions of us) believe in responsibility and accountability. If GM's unions messed up their industry, GM's unions needed to be accountable for their messing up by restructuring through a bankruptcy. (and if jobs had been "killed," it would merely have been the useless union bloat, not those critical to GM's success). "Tens of thousands of jobs" gone? Really? Someone please be precise about that hogwash statement! Yes, bankruptcy is a little more messy and not real good PR for the unions to bring to light their messing up, but it has to do with facing REALITY and the unions' outrageous me-me-me demands. But no - just like everything else operated with a Nanny state mentality - SOMEBODY ELSE has to fix the mess, in this case we taxpayers.

    May 10, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  7. Cubby

    Yeah Ilya, as opposed to GOP rhetoric which is full of well thought out and factually based talking points devoid of any vitriol.

    The problem with our current political environment is that neither side wants to even consider the possibility that there are solutions being offered on both sides of the aisle that could help our country and at the same time there are some that are not in our country's best interest. When we don't want to take the time to even consider the other side's point of view it is much easier to simply insult them, call them names or paint them in a negative light. Welcome to our current political environment. You've assimilated well.

    If you think that liberals are the only ones who resort to name calling and insults, your only kidding yourself.

    May 10, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. Dave

    Let's see if Obama is an etch a sketch: Said he was against debt and deficits, but they have skyrocketed under his leadership. Said he wanted to be transparent, but does not open up the health debate to the public. Said he is against bribery, but then rewards those who vote for his policies. Says he is against breaking international law and torture, but then is willing to put a bullet in bin Laden's head. Said he wants low energy prices, but does not build the pipelline. Give me a break!

    May 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  9. Woman In California

    Go Mr. President!

    May 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  10. Thomas

    Shake, Rattle and Roll...

    May 10, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. gg

    mitt want,s spend trillions on the military-why not save money and time–let the republicans get thier world war three going -then spend a third of that on bricks and mortar

    May 10, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Interesting how all of the people screaming about bailouts have no problem with Obama breaking hundreds of US laws and using taxpayer money to bailout one of his biggest union supporters. Were you in favor of bailing out the banks or investment houses? What about AIG? Or is it just union shops that Obama and the leftists are willing to bail out?

    May 10, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. VETERANS WITH MISSING LIMBS FOR OBAMA

    This guy is such a phony! For example, following the killing of Osama Bin Laden Mitt Romney said if he was president he would have gone after OBL too but he would have taken a different approach! Guess what? When candidate Obama ran for office in 2008, killing or capturing OBL was a major part of his foreign policy agenda! However, as a candidate for the presidency himself in 2008, at no point in time did Mitt Romney ever mentioned OBL in his campaigning or during the republican debates! This guy is such a first class phony and a fraud!

    May 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ray E. (Georgia)

    It was the Unions that basically Bankrupted the American Auto Companies. The Unions raked in money, the Auto Companies paid the Unions instead of building good cars. The Unions Etch-a-Skeched themselves. American cars are getting better but still fall short of Asian cars in overall quality. When you have a record to run on, you either tout it or mis-direct the conversation. The people are going to Etch-a-Sketch the Obummer Adminstration in November.
    *********************************************************
    The unions gave up billions of dollars in wages and benefits over the last 2 decades to management that screwed the companies up. Even when GM had good ideas ( like Saturn) they management screwed them up and forced the lines to close. The wages those auto workers got gave them the chance to live a middle-calss life-style, something the GOP is bound and determined to deny as many people as possible access to. What is a greater concern to me is the fact that Red States like Georgia repeatedly take more federal dollars than they send, yet scream they are over-taxed. Lazy, whining red staters. The president is running on his record( GM is alive and Bin Laden is dead): Its Romney who runs like a scalded dog from his thin public service resume. One term of taxing everything in sight, from hunting licenses to gasoline retailers, without any significant job creation. Pathetic.

    May 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Governor 47th in Job Growth

    And American companies taxed among the highest in the world forcing them overseas to try and stay competitive.

    1. One must look at the effective rate, taking into account the myriad of loopholes and deductions that allow the US corporations pay less than other industrialized nations on a real basis.
    2. An inconvenient truth for you Four (More) is that POTUS proposed lowering the top rate again just as recently as Feb. Did he get coopoeration from the party whose only goal is to make him a one term President (which they will fail again)? Nope.

    Finally any and all deficit conversations started by any GOPer lack any credibility whatsoever. Was it a cause for concern when W was spending like a drunken sailor? Nope. Matter of fact, Cheney was your mouthpiece saying that deficits don't matter. No credibility for the GOP, so stop the charade.

    May 10, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. Marty, FL

    Four,
    Where were Mitt's key resources needed to allow for the managed process? A: he did not have any. In fact, Romney was against the vital resources that Pres. Obama provided to save our American auto industry.

    Four And More–Obama/Biden 2012

    May 10, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    All you have to do is shake it up and start all over again! You know, like etch-a-sketch! Obama/Biden 2012!

    May 10, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  18. Woman In California

    For those of you calling our president a "loser" what does that make you since you have never gotten even HALF as far as he has. Don't hate him because your party chose to thrust an anemic candidate up against him this election. Let's face it – Willard is the BIGGEST fraud since Milli Vanilli and most of us with sane minds know it.

    May 10, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Bubba

    Obama has his faults, but he's so much better than Mitt that there's no comparison. Sorry, but nobody in either party wants Mitt stumbling around Washington trying to think of some way to buy a new economy. Get a new candidate or face the Mitt music.

    May 10, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. davey

    Appears barry had his own Etch A Sketch moment, flopping like a fish on gay marraige. Oh of course if you are on the left and you change your view you are just "evolving."

    May 10, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  21. Daveinil

    So Obama thinks Romney has flipped on the auto industry like the President has done on gay marriage?

    May 10, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Marty, FL

    Russ in Md,
    Yes, Russia is a strong power in the world. Romney irresponsibly wants to make them an enemy by going backwards to the Cold War provocations. Pres. Obama wants to move forward by working together with the Russians as a responsible alliance. Big difference.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    May 10, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Newt warned everyone that Romney's a liar, even though Newt's a liar also, he was right.

    May 10, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  24. Common Sense

    Four and the Door- " And American companies taxed among the highest in the world forcing them overseas to try and stay competitive. Yes, Obama gets credit for this."

    This is as ridiculous as calling Millionaires "job creators". The corporate tax rate is immaterial until the loopholes are closed, no company pays the standing tax rate and you know it. They are sitting on boatloads of cash, refusing to invest in America and you make it out to be anything except unpatriotic?

    May 10, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  25. Rickster

    Once again Obama is lying through his gigantic teeth. Romney is correct in saying that the auto companies should have gone through bankruptcy proceedings. All of you air-headed democrats need to get educated. Bankruptcy proceedings are designed exactly for the situation that the auto companies faced.......so that a company can re-organize and work their way back to prosperity just as Chrysler did years ago. Saying that the auto companies would have "gone under" is just not true. Had they not gotten their bailout(i.e. union payback) from Obama they would have filed for bankruptcy protection and been forced to work their own way out of it......as it should have been. Ironic, too, that union contracts were a big reason for the auto companies going broke and then taxpayer money is used to bail them out thus continuing the corrupt democrat party/corrupt union connection.

    May 10, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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