I’m reading former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s new book A Governor’s Story in preparation for a review I’ll be writing for its release in a couple of days. I came across a paragraph which reminded me why Mitt Romney should probably just skip right over Michigan if he were to win the nomination. He should probably skip over Michigan trying to win the nomination, in fact. Granholm is telling the story about the CEO’s of the Detroit Three auto companies going to Washington, D.C. to appear before Congress for a second time, this time with their plans in-hand for turning their companies around.
Within days, in an act many saw as treasonous to the state he’d won through pandering in the primary, Mitt Romney penned an op-ed for the New York Times entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”. Auto executives and workers alike were apoplectic. Romney’s column was the only topic on the local news shows. My legislative director, Tim Hughes, spoke for many when he declared, “Romney will never, ever win Michigan again. In fact, he’d better not even try to set foot in the state after knifing us in the back like that.”
Here’s a excerpt from Romney’s unbelievably stupid and wrong-headed op-ed:
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.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
Romney goes on to argue that a managed bankruptcy was the best way for the companies to go. That did actually happen with General Motors. However, both Chrysler and GM received essential help from the federal government that kept them alive and afloat as they sorted out their problems. Without receiving “a check” from the feds, things would have turned out very differently. This so-called “bailout” was not a gift, by the way, it was a package of loans, most of which have now been paid back.
It will be interesting to see if Romney dares to show his face in Michigan again after advocating for letting the Detroit auto companies die. If he does, I knew a few auto workers who will have a thing or two to say to him when he gets here.
Adding…The most recent poll of registered voters in Michigan has Romney down by 5. This is an important bit of analysis by the polling firm PPP:
One issue where voters are clearly on Obama’s side over Romney’s- and one that has the potential to scuttle Romney’s chances of winning the state further down the line- is the auto bailout. 51% of voters think that it’s been a success to only 30% who disagree. And asked more specifically whether they think the bailout’s been a good thing for Michigan 66% of voters say it has been with only 18% dissenting. Romney’s opposition to the popular bailout will give Obama a good card to play if that ends up being the match up in the general election.