This post has been updated.
Personally responding for the first time to Democratic attacks this week over his business record at Bain Capital, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday accused President Obama of being responsible for the elimination of more than 100,000 auto industry jobs.
Romney was asked by conservative talk radio host and blogger Ed Morrisey of Hot Air about a new attack this week from Obama’s reelection campaign over Bain’s role in the 2001 bankruptcy of GST Steel, which resulted in massive job losses. Romney said he was not responsible for the actions because he had taken a leave from Bain two years earlier to run the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
“The most recent attacks are really off target and I think they know,” Romney said. “They said, ‘Oh, gosh, Governor Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory.’ But their problem, of course, is that the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that’s hardly something which is on my watch.”
Then Romney tried to lay blame for auto job losses on Obama.
“We were able to help create over 100,000 jobs,” Romney said of his tenure at Bain, the venture capital and corporate buyout firm he founded. “On the president’s watch, about 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry and auto dealers and auto manufacturers, so he’s hardly one to point a finger.”
It was an unusual line of defense for Romney considering that the Obama administration’s rescue of the auto industry is one the president’s most popular accomplishments, especially in critical midwestern battlegrounds like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The federal bailout of two of the Big Three domestic auto companies has been widely considered a success, and Democrats have attacked Romney for instead advocating a managed bankruptcy in a New York Times op-ed titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
The Obama campaign, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said auto industry employment actually increased by about 102,000 jobs since Obama took office in January 2009.
“I think it’s embarrassing for Mitt Romney to liken what the president did with the auto industry, in saving the auto industry, to what he did during his time in the private sector, where he bankrupted companies,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager. She added, “The more Mitt Romney wants to compare what he did in the private sector to what the president did in the auto industry, that’s great. We’d love to continue pointing out those contrasts.”
The Post’s Fact Checker determined that Romney’s claim that he created 100,000 jobs at Bain was unproven and untenable.