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Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 02/13/2012

George W. Bush: Auto bailout was mine!

President George W. Bush at the NADA Convention and Expo in Las Vegas last week. (Courtesy of NADA)
Republicans continue to blast President Obama for that auto bailout three years ago. Mitt Romney says he would have -- as he argued back in 2008 when the issue was being debated -- let the automakers go through a structured bankruptcy: sell off some stuff, downsize and so forth.

But former President George W. Bush, most annoyingly, keeps coming to Obama’s defense, saying the bailout was essential to stave off complete disaster.

He defended the move in his memoir and he popped up again last week at the Las Vegas convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association, saying he would “do it again.”

“I didn’t want there to be 21 percent unemployment,” Bush told the 22,000 attendees. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy.”

“I said, ‘No depression.’”

In his memoir he said the move was “the only option” to avert immediate bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM and the loss of a million jobs and $150 billion in tax revenues.

So Bush, who might be able to beat Romney in Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary — Santorum leads by seven in a CNN poll -- forked over a cool $25 billion. Obama, who’s been criticized by Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler for overstating the success of the effort (the White House differs), forked over another $55 billion.

It’s unclear what the auto dealers forked over to get Bush to appear. Ex-presidents usually get six figures for these appearances. And W got a standing ovation.

By  |  02:30 PM ET, 02/13/2012

Tags:  Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michigan Primary, Auto bailouts

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