While Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were slugging it out with pillowcases filled with manure in Michigan today (as Newt Gingrich stood giggling on the sidelines, egging them on) President Barack Obama delivered a barnstormer of a speech to the United Auto Workers in which he reminded a weary America why it chose him in 2008.
In what’s being called “a political clinic”, the President took direct aim at his chief rivals.
“I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” Obama told a UAW convention in Washington. “These are the folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’ Now they’re saying they were right all along!”
The alternative to federal help, Obama said, “was to do nothing, and allow these companies to fail. In fact, some politicians said we should. Some even said we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’”
Obama was no doubt referring to an op-ed written by the former Massachusetts governor in 2008 bearing the headline, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”.
“If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed,” Romney wrote.
“You remember that,” Obama added. “You know.”
Romney’s position on the post-bailout success of the automobile industry has been called mystifying and confusing.
Romney claims he would have saved the auto industry as president, but has not specified exactly how much government help — if any — would have been needed to do so.
But he would have done something, he says. And it would have worked, too! Even better than what Obama did. Yeah. That’s the ticket.
President Obama explained to the enthusiastic UAW crowd that what Romney’s now says he would have done instead of a government bailout would not have helped their industry get back on its feet.
Since there were no private-sector loans available at a time when conservative politicians were saying to let Detroit die on the vine, “all of you — the men and women who built these companies with your own hands — would’ve been hung out to dry,” Obama said.
Obama veered away from his prepared remarks so he could give an equal time jab at Romney’s chief rival for the GOP nomination, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
(He said) that he wanted to save middle-class jobs in Detroit in part so workers’ kids could “yes, go to college.” Rick Santorum said earlier this week that Obama was a “snob” for suggesting all Americans should have the opportunity for higher education.
Many of his supporters had been wondering what had happened to the barn-burning, bring-down-the-house orator Obama had been in 2008. He was there today, speaking to a very friendly crowd of labor supporters.
“You want to talk about values?” he asked. “Hard work — that’s a value. Looking out for one another — that’s a value. The idea that we’re all in it together — that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper — that is a value.”
He continued: “But they’re still talking about you as if you’re some greedy special interest that needs to be beaten. Since when are hardworking men and women special interests? Since when is the idea that we look out for each other a bad thing?”
The rousing oration proved an interesting contrast to what has been called an empty and listless speech Romney gave to tens of thousands of empty seats at Ford Field in Detroit last week.
YOUR TAKE ON THE NEWS? Use the “comments” form to answer this question.
Mitt Romney says he won’t resort to “lighting my hair on fire” to get the Republican base excited. Short of taking a match to his well-oiled “do,” is there anything Romney can do to pull his cakes out of the embers at this stage of the primary game?
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