Allies of President Obama are wading into the Michigan GOP primary, attacking former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on one of his weakest points in the state.
A new Priorities USA ad hits Romney for opposing the auto industry bailout, a position the candidate has struggled to explain as he campaigns in the home of the U.S. auto industry.
“His message was clear,” the narrator says in the ad. It shows a clip from a 2011 CBS interview in which Romney echoed the headline of his 2008 New York Times op-ed piece — “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”
The word “bankrupt” plays throughout the ad over a shot of the newspaper. In between those flashes, the ad attacks Romney for profiting at Bain Capital even when the businesses his firm bought failed. “Are those the values we want in an American president?” it concludes.
The Romney quote is taken out of context. In the CBS interview, Romney was trying to clarify his position on the bailout.
“I think you’re misunderstanding the word ‘bankrupt,’” Romney told interviewer Erica Hill. “It’s not liquidation of an enterprise, but allowing them to go to the bankruptcy court to reorganize and come out stronger ... The headline you read, which said ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,’ points out that those companies needed to go through bankruptcy to shed those costs.”
The headline has frustrated members of Romney’s campaign, who argue that the words were chosen by the paper and do not reflect the nuance of Romney’s call for a managed bankruptcy, in which the company uses the bankruptcy code to discharge its debts.
“The last thing President Obama wants to do is run against Mitt Romney – and that is why his political machine continues their deceptive attacks to ‘kill Romney’ and is desperately trying to tip the scale in the Republican primary,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
The candidate is struggling in Michigan, his birthplace and the state where his father served as governor. A loss there to former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum would be devastating to his campaign.
It’s rare for Democrats to get involved in a Republican primary. The super PAC has reserved $238,000 in the state’s Detroit and Flint markets, where this ad will air from Feb. 22nd to 28th. It’s the first major buy for a group that raised only $58,816 in January, while struggling without the president’s endorsement. (Obama has since reversed course and given the unlimited-fundraising group his blessing.)