Could Republicans be in for a hard time next year now that the auto industry is struggling back to its feet? Democrats say yes. On a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters, former Democratic Govs. Jennifer Granholm (MI) and Ted Strickland (OH) said voters in their states are enjoying thousands of new jobs thanks to the auto industry bailout Republicans (these days, anyway) love to hate.
And with Chrysler completing its repayment of $7.6 billion in federal loans six years early, Democrats say the Republicans running for president — all of whom slammed the bailout program, they say — have found themselves on the wrong side on what has turned out to be a successful jobs program.
“Midwestern families would have been left out in the cold: no job, no income, no industry” if Republican bailout foes had their way, Granholm said. “And these voters are not going to forget it.”
The Democrats on the call had a field day reminiscing about Mitt Romney’s 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” in which the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination said American automakers would be on a “suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses” if a bailout plan went ahead.
“Look where we are today,” Granholm said, pointing to what she said is an industry on the road to health.
“When Michigan families and communities needed his support the most, Romney saw this debate as an oppurtune moment to earn some conservative cred,” she added.
Strickland acknowledged that polls don’t yet show a boost for Obama in Ohio, which Strickland governed for four years. But he said that a bailout bump is coming in the important presidential election state.
“I think the president’s going to do well in Ohio,” Strickland said. “Not only because of the saving of the auto industry, but the fact that our state’s economy is on the rebound.”
“People are starting to understand that we are where we are today because of the decisions that were made by this president during the most trying of times,” Strickland added.
Democrats clearly see a big fat win in the Chrysler news. Not only was Obama’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler fairly unpopular at the time, the decision to spend billions keeping the massive and at time time failing corporations up and running gave Republicans plenty of populist rhetorical opportunities.
Now, with the presidential race looming and both Chrysler and GM showing serious signs of life, Democrats are ready to make Republicans like Romney pay for their anti-bailout talk.
Here’s what that looks like, in the form of a video the DNC posted online Tuesday morning:
But it’s not just the fight with Republicans that gets a boost, say Democrats. On the call along with Granholm and Strickland was Bob King, the president of the UAW. As unions have become increasingly critical of their Democratic allies (if not Obama specifically), King said the success of the auto bailout will lead to union workers in the Midwest pulling the lever for Democrats in future elections.
“We’re bringing many manufacturing jobs into this country because Democrats under the president’s leadership understand the importance of manufacturing to the U.S.,” King said. “The Republican party is doing nothing for the manufacturing base.”