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Obama campaign Michigan ad touts saving auto industry

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WASHINGTON--With the Michigan primary looming on Tuesday, the Obama 2012 campaign is up with a paid ad touting President Barack Obama's record in rescuing the auto industry. The ad is the second of the campaign and the first spot where the Obama team is not reacting to an attack--just putting out the ad and the message it wants when it wants.

"Made in America. For generations of Michigan autoworkers it's more than a slogan. It's a way of life," a male announcer says in a voiceover.

The brawny spot hits Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul for opposing the auto bailout--and specifically nicks Romney for his position that the federal government should have let "Detroit Go Bankrupt."

The Republicans defended their views during an extended portion of the Wednesday night debate on CNN--and took swipes at the United Auto Workers union while they were at it.

In 2008, Obama won Michigan 57.43 percent over John McCain, who got 40.96 percent. Democrats John Kerry won Michigan in 2004 and Al Gore won in 2000.

Earlier, the campaign's first paid ad running in some primary states spoke to Obama's energy message--but it was a rebuttal to an Americans for Prosperity Solyandra hit.



Chicago, IL - Obama for America today released a television ad titled "Made in America" highlighting the President's bold decision to extend emergency loans to the auto industry. When the industry was on the verge of collapse, and others advocated letting "Detroit go bankrupt," President Obama helped save more than 1.4 million jobs up and down the supply chain by providing rescue loans to GM and Chrysler. Those loans allowed the industry to continue providing jobs to Americans and producing cars, so that everyone from management to workers could have time to make sacrifices and concessions for the companies to emerge stronger and more competitive. Today, Detroit is reopening factories and adding shifts, and over the last two-and-a-half years America's auto industry added more than 200,000 jobs.

The 30-second ad is running in Michigan.

To view the ad and get more information on President Obama's record, please visit:


VOICEOVER: Made in America. For generations of Michigan autoworkers it's more than a slogan. It's a way of life.

VOICEOVER: But when a million jobs were on the line...

VIDEO TEXT: Big Three Automakers Running Out of Time - Associated Press, 11/19/08

Center For Automotive Research: The Auto Industry Supports Over 1.1 Million Jobs In Michigan, A Full 21.8% Of The State's Workforce. "The motor vehicle industry's breadth and depth of operations extends into every state economy in the nation. The industry impacts an unusually large number of individual communities because the supplier network is spread across many states. Beyond that, motor vehicle dealerships have a presence in nearly every community in the country. The tables in this section examine the estimated employment and income contributions of the industry to individual state economies." [CAR Industry Contribution Report, 4/21/10]

Headline: "Big Three Automakers Running Out Of Time." [Associated Press, 11/19/08]

VOICEOVER:...Every Republican candidate turned their back.

Romney Said Of The Auto Rescue Loans: "That's Exactly What I Said. The Headline You Read Which Said 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Points Out That Those Companies Needed To Go Through Bankruptcy." On the CBS Early Show Mitt Romney said, "'Yeah, that's exactly what I said. The headline you read which said 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' points out that those companies needed to go through bankruptcy to shed those costs,' Romney said. 'And the federal government put in, I think, $17 billion into those companies before they finally recognized, 'Yeah, they need to go bankrupt, go through that process, so that they're able to get rid of excess costs.'" [CBS News, 6/3/11]

Santorum: "We Should Not Have Had" The Auto Rescue, Auto Companies Should Have "Gone Through A Structured Bankruptcy Without The Federal Government." "SANTORUM: No, absolutely not. We should -- we should not have had a TARP. We should not have had the auto bailout. Governor Romney's right. They could have gone through a structured bankruptcy without the federal government. All the federal government did was basically tip to the cronies, tip to the unions, gave the unions the company. If they'd have gone through the orderly bankruptcy process, gone through a structured bankruptcy, they'd have come out in the same place, only we would have kept the integrity of the bankruptcy process without the government putting its fingers into it." [Real Clear Politics, 6/14/11]

Gingrich Called The Rescue Of The Big Three Auto Manufacturers "A Mistake." In an editorial written with Jim Frogue, Gingrich wrote, "In December, President Bush authorized the bailout of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. That was a mistake as it merely subsidized bad management and bloated union contracts, which has led to a flood of requests for bailouts from virtually every other industry, including adult entertainment (but at least Larry Flynt was joking)." [Newt Gingrich And Jim Frogue Op-Ed, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 2/9/09]

Paul Called The Auto Rescue Loan "Unconstitutional." Ron Paul said, on the Floor of the House, "Providing this $14 billion in loan guarantees will contribute to the already fragile economy by increasing the federal debt and thus creating either increased inflation or increased taxes. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to consider how many businesses will not be started, jobs will not be created, and consumer desires will remain unfulfilled because the resources to start those business and create those jobs were taken from the private sector for the auto bailout. I urge my colleagues to reject this unconstitutional bill that will further the growth of government and damage the American economy. Instead, Congress should help the American auto industry, and all American business, by cutting taxes and regulations." [Ron Paul Speech, House Of Representatives, 110th Congress, 12/10/08]

VOICEOVER: Even said, "Let Detroit go Bankrupt".

VIDEO TEXT: Let Detroit go Bankrupt -New York Times, 11/18/08

ROMNEY OP-ED HEADLINE: "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" [Romney Op-Ed, New York Times, 11/18/08]

VOICEOVER: Not him...

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Don't bet against the American auto industry.


President Obama Said, "Don't Bet Against The American Auto Industry." " Don't bet against America. Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't bet against the American worker. Don't bet against us." [Remarks by the President to Chrysler Workers in Kokomo, Indiana, 11/23/10]

VOICEOVER: Now, a retooled, restructured industry is back...

VIDEO TEXT: GM Posts Record Annual Profit -Wall Street Journal, 2/16/12; "Chrysler US Sales Rise 44 Percent In January" - Associated Press, 2/1/12

Detroit Free Press Columnist Tom Walsh: Auto Rescue "Totally Reshaped A Bloated And Dysfunctional Industry, Forcing Sacrifices From All, Into Something That Now Looks Sensible And Sustainable." "Obama's auto task force totally reshaped a bloated and dysfunctional industry, forcing sacrifices from all, into something that now looks sensible and sustainable." [Detroit Free Press, 7/30/10]

LAT: "A Leaner, More Aggressive Auto Industry Is Making A Comeback," Adding Nearly 90,000 Manufacturing Jobs In The Past Two Years. "Taxpayers bailed out much of the U.S. auto industry. Now the carmakers might be what saves the nation's economy from falling back into recession. After a massive restructuring and several high-profile bankruptcies, a leaner, more aggressive auto industry is making a comeback, hiring workers and ramping up manufacturing plants. From a trough two years ago, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Chrysler Group and other auto companies have added almost 90,000 manufacturing jobs, a 14% increase, according to federal employment data." [Los Angeles Times, 8/25/11]

AP: "GM Books Record Annual Profit" [Associated Press, 2/16/12]

Headline: "Chrysler US sales rise 44 pct. in January" [Associated Press, 2/1/12]

VOICEOVER:...because of the grit and sacrifice of Michigan workers.


Chicago Tribune: President Obama's Auto Rescue Plan Wrung "Extraordinary Concessions" From Chrysler, GM, And The UAW. "As with Chrysler LLC, which filed its own Chapter 11 case on April 30, the Obama task force has been able to wring extraordinary concessions from GM management, the United Auto Workers union and a large group of creditors to eliminate many of the costs that made it vulnerable to foreign competition." [The Chicago Tribune, 6/2/09]

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Don't bet against the American worker.

President Obama Said, "Don't Bet Against The American Auto Industry." " Don't bet against America. Don't bet against the American auto industry. Don't bet against American ingenuity. Don't bet against the American worker. Don't bet against us." [Remarks by the President to Chrysler Workers in Kokomo, Indiana, 11/23/10]

PRESIDENT OBAMA VOICEOVER: I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

VIDEO TEXT: OFA LOGO, Approved by Barack Obama. Paid for by Obama for America.



"Why was George W. Bush wrong in his efforts to save the auto industry and why was Barack Obama wrong to continue the effort?"

Senator Santorum, I want to go to you first with this question. You, like your friends on the stage tonight, opposed the auto bailout. Michigan votes on Tuesday, along with Arizona. We assume folks are watching there tonight. Address your answer to an auto worker who may believe strongly that he or she has that job tonight because of the help -- the bailout?

SANTORUM: I would just say to them that I in principle oppose government coming in and bailing out a sector of the economy or an industry with government dollars and -- and with government manipulation of that market, which is exactly what happened twice, in 2008 and 2009.

The first time it happened was the Wall Street bailout. On principle, I opposed the Wall Street bailout, even though I understand people -- reasonable people could disagree. I felt that having the government come in in such a major way and have a huge influence over the direction of that industry, that that would be damaging to what I believe is the best way to resolve these types of problems, which lets the market work, constructive capitalism, as Governor Romney was talking about in his days at Bain Capital, and destructive capitalism.

And that means pain. I understand that. But it also means limited government and allowing markets to work because we believe they're more efficient over time. I held the same consistent position when it came to the auto bailouts. I can say that with respect to Governor Romney, that was not the case. He supported the folks on Wall Street and bailed out Wall Street, was all for it. And then when it came to the auto workers, the folks in Detroit, he said, no. That to me is not a consistent, principled position. I had one. I believe in markets, not just when they're convenient for me.

KING: Governor?


ROMNEY: Nice -- nice try, but now let's look at the facts. All right, first of all -- first of all let's go back to the auto industry and -- and go back to 2000, I think it was 2008, President Bush was still in office and the three chief executive officers of the three major auto companies got in their private planes and flew to Washington and said, please write us a check. I think they wanted $50 billion. And I wrote an Op-Ed in the paper and I said, absolutely not. Do not write a check for $50 billion.

These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy...


ROMNEY: ...and -- and if they go through that managed bankruptcy and shed the excessive cost that's been put on them by the UAW and by their own mismanagement, then if they need help coming out of bankruptcy, the government can provided guarantees and get them back on their feet. No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out. With regards to -- to TARP it's very simple, or -- or the Wall Street. Look, I don't want to save any Wall Street Banks.

I just don't want (sic) make sure we lose all of our banks. And like -- like President Bush at the time, I was concerned that if we didn't do something, there were some pretty high risks that not just Wall Street banks, but all banks would collapse. And like many other people -- many other economists, they were concerned that our entire currency system would go down. My view is this, we have to have industries that get in trouble, go through bankruptcy. Now, Senator you voted in favor of the bail out of the airline industry after 9/11.

I think that was the right thing to do. It was an emergency. You also voted for the bail out of the steel industry. I don't think I agree with that one, but I do believe that the right course for the auto industry was to go through a managed bankruptcy process and then to get help getting out.

KING: Governor let me ask you...


KING: -- you mentioned -- you mentioned President Bush's position on the Wall Street bail out. If you talk to people in the Bush administration at the time, they say they would have preferred the structured bankruptcy route that you talked about, but that there was no private capital available. That nobody would give the auto companies money and that their choice they say at the time, was to either give the government money or have them liquidate.

ROMNEY: Yeah, it was really interesting. Because, you know, I wrote my piece and I said look, these companies need to go through managed bankruptcy. And the head of the UAW said, we can't go through managed bankruptcy. The industry will disappear if that happens. And the politicians, Barack Obama's people, oh no, we can't go through managed bankruptcy. Six months they wrote, I think it was $17 billion in checks to the auto companies. Then they finally realized I was right. They finally put them through managed bankruptcy. That was the time they needed the help to get out of managed bankruptcy.

Those monies they put in beforehand were -- it was wasted money. And number two, because they put that money in, the president gave the companies to the UAW, they were part of the reason the companies were in trouble. Giving these companies to the UAW was wrong.


(CROSSTALK) KING: Mr. Speaker -- one second.




SANTORUM: As -- as Governor Romney well knows, that the American government shut down the airline industry after 9/11. And the government by it's action stopped the airline industry from functioning and yes, as a result of government action, which I thought it was appropriate for government since we shut down the industry...


ROMNEY: I agree with you.

SANTORUM: ...after the events of 9/11.

ROMNEY: I agree.

SANTORUM: But government didn't shut down the banks. They didn't shut down the financial service industry. So when you compare those, it's not apples to apples, Mitt and that's not a fair comparison.

KING: Mr. Speaker, come in on the conversation. It's a tough one. It's a tough one. It's a major American industry, in a time of trouble.

GINGRICH: That's not a tough...


KING: That's not tough, you say.

GINGRICH: It's not tough. First of all, there's a huge amount of the American auto industry that was just fine. BMW in South Carolina was terrific. Mercedes in Alabama was doing just fine. Honda in Ohio was just fine. So the -- Toyota was just fine. What we have is the United Auto Workers and a management system that had grown very, I think incapable of tough decisions because they were used to selling out to the United Auto Workers. And so they came in and said, oh we can't change. And this president on behalf of the United Auto Workers said, you're exactly right.

Now, the fact is, Chrysler is now Fiat. So when we talk about saving the American auto industry, let's be clear what they were doing. I think that they would have been much better off to have gone through a managed bankruptcy, I agree with Governor Romney. I think it would have happened. I think what would have happened is the UAW would have lost all of their advantages and the result was, what you had I thought was an unprecedented violation of 200 years of bankruptcy law by Barack Obama to pay off the UAW at the expense of every bondholder. (APPLAUSE)

KING: Congressman Paul, as you join the conversation, the criticism of President Obama here, but I also want you to address the state's current Republican governor, Rick Snyder, who supports Mitt Romney, but that's irrelevant to this point. He says, "The bailout actually was something that really worked."

Is that Republican governor wrong?

PAUL: Well, you know, it's interesting when they argue that case.

First, I don't like the idea that you have good bailouts and bad bailouts. If bailouts are bad, they're bad, and we shouldn't be doing it.

But this argument about maybe one that works, you know, well, now that the bankruptcy or the bailing out of GM worked, I said that's sort of like if a criminal goes out and robs a bank, and he's successful, therefore you endorse what he did, because he's successful. But you have to rob people, you have to distort the law.

The government is supposed to protect contracts. They're not supposed to regulate contracts and they're not supposed to undermine contracts. And that's what we've been doing.


PAUL: In the housing bubble, we undermined contracts. And this is what we're doing here. So you want to respect the contracts.

A lot of people will accuse me of advocating a free market, that there's no regulations. Actually, the regulations are tougher, because you have to go through bankruptcy and you have to face up to this.

And it isn't like General Motors would be destroyed. Newt made that point there, that there were good parts of General Motors. But politicians can't figure this out. Then they serve the special interests, and then you have labor fighting big business.

I opt for the free market in defense of liberty. That's what we need in this country.


KING: All right.


"The last thing President Obama and his team want to do is face Mitt Romney in the general election. Their factually false television ad proves they are more focused on Mitt Romney than they are on getting Michiganders back to work. President Obama is desperate to hold onto power." -Amanda Henneberg, Romney Spokesperson

For Three Years, President Obama Has Presided Over Failed Economic Policies And Record Unemployment Levels:

Despite The President's Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, The Country Has Had 36 Straight Months Of Unemployment Above 8%: The jobless rate has been above 8% since February 2009, a thirty-six month span unequaled in recorded history. (Bureau of Labor Statistics,, 2/16/12)

· "The Congressional Budget Office Is Projecting Unemployment Of More Than 8% Throughout This Election Year And Into 2014." (David Jackson, "CBO Projects 8%-Plus Unemployment Into 2014," USA Today, 2/16/12)

· Michigan's Unemployment Rate Is Currently 9.3%. (U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics Website,, Accessed 2/23/12)

The United States Is Currently Experiencing The Highest Level Of Long-Term Unemployment In Recorded History: Since December 2009, more than 40% of jobless workers have been unemployed for six months or longer, the highest level in recorded history. (Bureau of Labor Statistics,, 2/16/12)

President Obama Has Projected The "Fourth Straight Year Of Deficits Over $1 Trillion." "Obama's budget projects that the deficit for the current year will total $1.33 trillion, the fourth straight year of deficits over $1 trillion." ("Highlights Of Obama's $3.8 Trillion Budget," The Associated Press, 2/14/12)

Last Fall, President Obama Proposed "One Of The Biggest Tax Increases In History." "President Obama unveiled part two of his American Jobs Act on Monday, and it turns out to be another permanent increase in taxes to pay for more spending and another temporary tax cut. No surprise there. What might surprise Americans, however, is how the President is setting up the U.S. economy for one of the biggest tax increases in history in 2013." (Editorial, "The 2013 Tax Cliff," The Wall Street Journal, 9/14/11)

· Yesterday, President Obama Proposed $250 Billion In Additional Tax Increases On Businesses And Job Creators. "The broad parameters of Obama's plan include lowering the effective tax rate -- the real amount corporations pay after tax breaks are deducted -- to no more than 25%, down from the current 32%. But the package would seek to raise $250 billion more from corporations over the next 10 years." (Jim Puzzanghera, "Obama Wants To Cut Corporate Tax Rate To 28% As Part Of Overhaul," Los Angeles Times, 2/22/12)

Governor Romney Has Consistently Called For A Process That Would Have Lifted Up Auto Companies, But Avoided Bailouts:

Governor Romney Has Consistently Supported A Process That Would Have Rescued The Auto Companies, But Avoided A Taxpayer-Funded Bailout Of Tens Of Billions Of Dollars. ROMNEY: "I think they wanted $50 billion. And I wrote an Op-Ed in the paper and I said, absolutely not. Do not write a check for $50 billion. These companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, just like airlines have, just like other industries have. Go through a managed bankruptcy" (Mitt Romney, Remarks At CNN Republican Presidential Debate, Mesa, AZ, 2/22/12)

Governor Romney: "No Way Would We Allow The Auto Industry In America To Totally Implode And Disappear." ROMNEY: "No way would we allow the auto industry in America to totally implode and disappear. That was my view. Go through bankruptcy. When that happens, then the market can help lift them out." (Mitt Romney, Remarks At CNN Republican Presidential Debate, Mesa, AZ, 2/22/12)

The New York Times Has Confirmed That Governor Romney Did Not Write And Did Not Approve Of The "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" Headline. "There's just one small thing to consider: Mitt Romney didn't write the headline. ... After Democrats harangued Romney for his anti-bailout stance last week, sources at the New York Times confirmed for RCP that an editor at the Gray Lady chose 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.' What's more, Romney and his team never got a chance to see or approve of it before publication." (Erin McPike, ""Bankrupt" Headline: An Unfair Albatross For Romney?," Real Clear Politics, 2/21/12)


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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