Out of all the Republican presidential debates so far, never has the issue of bailing out Detroit’s automakers taken center stage as much as it did in Phoenix Thursday night.
For good reason: Michigan’s primary was Tuesday and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is trying to make a stand in the auto making state, the place where he grew up as son of former governor George Romney.
Even though they tried to score points from each other, Romney, former senator Rick Santorum and former speaker Newt Gingrich seemed to agree more than disagree when it came to auto bailouts. The other GOP hopeful, Rep. Ron Paul, sat out that part of the discussion. What they said:
Santorum said he opposed the government bailout of Wall Street and has no affection for the government stepping in to salvage Detroit automakers, but he questioned why Romney also wouldn’t have saved the automakers, but supported saving Wall Street.
Romney said automakers should not have been bailed out and should have gone through managed bankruptcies. “We need to have industries in trouble go through bankruptcy.” He said in the case of Wall Street, he feared that the country might lose all its banks.
Gingrich said a “huge amount” of the auto industry did just fine while Detroit makers were struggling — import brands like Toyota, BMW and Mercedes-Benz that have plants in the U.S. He agreed with Romney, saying that Detroit automakers should have faced the bankruptcy process instead of a bailout. He blamed President Obama for paying off the United Auto Workers union for its help in his election at the expense of “every bondholder.”