Could the Auto Industry Have Lost Romney the GOP Bid?


Back in 2008, former Governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed piece — on his BlackBerry, on the beach, in front of his $12 million home — entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” — according to the Detroit News. However, even as he worked to get it published, he worried that the opinions included therein would prevent his presidential nomination in the GOP. The concerns were addressed in Romney’s new book, “Double Down: Game Change 2012.”

When General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Chrysler LLC were struggling in 2008, Romney was strongly behind letting the two file for bankruptcy before giving them any government aid — and this wasn’t a popular sentiment with Metro Detroit where jobs are cinched around the auto industry. He believed that a managed bankruptcy restructuring would “propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check.”  The topic did, in fact, become a hot button issue in the presidential campaign, with most speakers at the Democratic National Convention mentioning his stance on the matter.

He also considered skipping Michigan on his campaign trail, concerned that it would be a waste of time and money. “Is it winnable?” he’d asked his campaign adviser, “Because if it’s not, we shouldn’t go in there and spend millions of dollars just to lose” — though he did ultimately win Michigan in the primaries by 3 percent.

When asked why he ran, he defended his choice to run a campaign as the GOP candidate, saying that he was the best man to beat President Barack Obama. “There’s no question but that I wanted to win it. No one could have worked harder than myself and my family worked for the campaign. We were all in, 110 percent. And we wanted to win very desperately. We recognized what was at stake. Frankly, I was concerned that, if the president were re-elected, the economy would continue to dwindle along, we’d continue to lose credibility around the world, the American people would find it harder and harder to get jobs, and we’re seeing those things happen before our very eyes,” said Romney.

According to the Detroit News, he said that while it’s always difficult to beat an incumbent, he believed he had the best chance to do so. Romney said he “gave everything I possibly could give to make that the reality.” The campaign manager for Obama’s campaign, Jim Messina told the Detroit News back in 2012 that auto claims backfired for Romney, referring to the former governors claims that he was to be credited with saving the auto industry.

“People understood, one, it wasn’t true, and two, it was obviously a political ploy to make people forget the truth about his position opposing the auto rescue, which clearly was one of the most important things the administration had done during the first four years,” said Messina.

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