Despite his 2008 call to "let Detroit go bankrupt," presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Monday that he would "take a lot of credit" for his impact on the U.S. automobile industry's comeback.
During an interview with WEWS-TV in Cleveland following a campaign stop, Romney said his views helped save the industry.
"I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy," Romney said. "And finally, when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet. So I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back."
Both General Motors and Chrysler ended up taking the massive federal loans supported by both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush. The bailout included managed bankruptcy filings for both companies. According to the federal judge who presided over Chrysler's bankruptcy in 2009, the company would not have survived without the bailout. Ford survived without taking a government loan.
Romney's stance on the bailouts and his infamous 2008 New York Times op-ed "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," have come up throughout the campaign, especially ahead of February's primary in Michigan. In that editorial, Romney argued that a government bailout for ailing auto giants Chrysler and General Motors would do more harm than good.
"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. "In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check."
Romney also spoke out on his opposition to the government loaning money to the industry in 2009, placing some of the blame on Bush.
"Bailout of enterprises that are in trouble, that's not the right way to go," Romney told CNN's Larry King in 2009. "I know President Bush started it with the auto industry. I thought it was a mistake."
Obama's campaign immediately responded to Romney's comments on Monday evening, stating that Romney was attempting to "fool" the public.
“Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ but the American people won’t let him," Obama campaign co-chair Ted Strickland said in a statement, referencing Romney's Times editorial. "Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue."
Chrysler, now majority-owned by Italy's Fiat, has since paid back all but $1.3 billion of its $12.5 billion government loan. According to CNN, taxpayers were $25.5 billion short on the $50 billion G.M. bailout as of February.
Watch Romney's full interview below:
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