Political Animal


May 25, 2011 10:40 AM Romney claims credit for Obama policy he opposed

By Steve Benen

As the Obama administration’s rescue of the American automotive industry looks more and more successful, Republicans are left in a bit of a bind. The GOP wasn’t just fierce critics of the effective policy, Republicans also swore up and down that the failure of the president’s approach was inevitable. The GOP would have preferred to see the industry collapse and force hundreds of thousands of workers into unemployment.

We now know that, at the moment of crisis, Obama was right and the GOP was wrong. The next question is what Republicans intend to do about it.

So far, the answer is, “take credit for the policy they fought against.”

This started in earnest last fall, when Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who had characterized the rescue as a “chilling” assault on “free enterprise,” said the president had really only “followed through” on ideas “Republicans laid out.” Other GOP officials moved in a similar direction a few weeks ago.

But Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is unique in his brazenness.

A Romney spokesman said on Tuesday that the president’s plan was modeled after one Mr. Romney advocated in 2008.

“Mitt Romney had the idea first,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman, citing the Times opinion article. “You have to acknowledge that. He was advocating for a course of action that eventually the Obama administration adopted.”

You’ve. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.

Romney spent the spring of 2009 trashing the Obama administration’s policy. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” and told a national television audience that the entire auto industry was likely “to go out of business” as a result of President Obama’s approach. Romney, at the time, called the administration’s plan “tragic” and “a very sad circumstance for this country.”

And now Romney is claiming credit for the same policy he opposed? Seriously? Are Romney and his team simply assuming that we’ve all lost access to Google?

Update: The Romney campaign has a defense for the claim, but to put it mildly, it’s woefully unpersuasive.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • slappy magoo on May 25, 2011 10:44 AM:

    Romney and his people assume Republican voters either don't know how to check the Google...or they don't care, as long as they can take credit for something, even if it's something for which they deserve no credit.

    Never forget in Republicanistan, a claim doesn't need to be proven, it just needs to be MADE. And repeated. Until it being "proven" is no longer necessary, everyone just knows it's true.

  • ComradeAnon on May 25, 2011 10:44 AM:

    No, just the ones that spend all their time on Fox.

  • c u n d gulag on May 25, 2011 10:45 AM:

    Mitt's kind of like the old 45 records we oldsters used to buy.

    If you didn't like the one side, maybe you'd like the flip side.

  • S. Holland on May 25, 2011 10:45 AM:

    nope, we have the access to google, the media doesn't ever use it nor will they point out his brazen lie! And so it continues............

  • jpeckjr on May 25, 2011 10:46 AM:

    This is bizarre on several levels. One being how would Romney benefit from claiming credit for a policy that Republicans universally opposed, that Tea Party types despised? "Vote for me because I thought of the idea you don't like before he did" doesn't seem like a winning strategy to me.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 25, 2011 10:48 AM:

    Keep it up, Mitt! You may blow that nomination yet!

  • james on May 25, 2011 10:52 AM:

    Is there any evidence, like an interview or statement, that Romney supported this approach at all? My recollection of the automobile industry troubles is they did not emerge until late in 2008, long after Romney's candidacy had ended. My recollection may be wrong. But saying "prove it" to the Romney campaign seems like a good idea. He could be making it up.

    Hmmmmm . . . my Captcha code for this post is "what assouls." Funny.

  • Steve's Naievete [sp?] on May 25, 2011 10:52 AM:

    Steve, when has a Republican lie ever cost them anything? Our corporate media just puts their lies out there.

  • Zorro for the Common Good on May 25, 2011 10:55 AM:

    Maybe Romney has the auto bailout confused with healthcare reform?

  • Brendan Riley on May 25, 2011 10:56 AM:

    Obama got the idea from him? Perhaps Romney's campaign was thinking of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Grumpy on May 25, 2011 10:58 AM:

    We now know that, at the moment of crisis, Obama was right and the GOP was wrong.

    Tangentially, when has this ever not been the case? There are certainly examples of Obama being wrong and Republicans agreeing with him, e.g. detentions & whatnot. But surely there must be some example of Obama screwing up (beyond, say, signing the wrong year in a guest book) where Republicans had him dead-to-rights. Even once?

  • MattF on May 25, 2011 11:05 AM:

    Romney's strategy is 'say anything that might work'. And no, I'm not being snarky here.

  • dcsusie on May 25, 2011 11:14 AM:

    When you know the average IQ of your targeted electorate is about equal to that of a garden snail, it frees you up to say pretty much anything you want to. It's fine for the GOP primaries, but will likely pose serious problems in the general. Therefore, I say Go Mittens!

  • berttheclock on May 25, 2011 11:25 AM:

    "Obama being wrong"

    Similar to the newest spin of "It was Obama's fault for the loss in NY State".

    This spin was on "Mourning Joe", when, Joe said Ryan's Budget plan involving Medicare was only to have been a marker, not, an end game. It was designed so Obama could counter with his budget plan and there could have been dialogue. Thus, when, Obama did not counter, but, left Ryan dangling in the wind, it was the fault of Obama and the poor poor Republicans are paying the price. Yes, indeed, poor poor young Mr Ryan, who meant to say, "I didn't really mean it, guys" Truly amazing spin.

  • AnOldRepublican on May 25, 2011 11:40 AM:

    What is a Google? Is it really something that we need when we have Fox News and their fair and balanced reportig?

  • j on May 25, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Have they seem the Democratic ad that has been circulating for the past 4 or 5 days, it shows Mittens maEaking speeches attacking Obama for the bailout and giving his opinion that they would be broke before the year was out!

  • LoveHate on May 25, 2011 12:12 PM:

    Here goes S. Benen with his politics as usual brand of gotcha journalism. Republicans and Republican candidates have already told the American people that you can't hold them accountable for their records, nor quote them verbatim in an attempt frame the debate.

  • Sean Scallon on May 25, 2011 12:25 PM:

    I think Gov. Plastic is hoping most Republican primary voters don't use the internet

  • OKDem on May 25, 2011 1:35 PM:

    Mitt has no sentimentality, that is for sure.
    His father built American Motors Corporation [Rambler/AMC] out of Nash and Hudson.

    After a long decline post George Romney, AMC ended up as Jeep and for a time Eagle as part of Chrysler.

    Mitt wanted to wipe the last visage of his father's major corporate achievement from the face of the earth.

  • Eeyore on May 25, 2011 2:08 PM:

    Re OKDem:

    "His father built American Motors Corporation [Rambler/AMC] out of Nash and Hudson."

    This is true - George Romney built AMC into a success after combining Nash and Hudson. He left to go be Governor of Michigan.

    Perhaps Mitt is confusing himself with his father's success in the automobile business - "Romney Rescues Failing Automobile Makers" is a valid historical statement, it just doesn't apply to Mitt.


    On a side note, I'm planning to start a new business. I'm collecting all the random Captcha words and storing them on my PC. When I get enough, I'll combine them to make speeches for Republican politicians. They'll make more sense then :)

  • yellowdog on May 25, 2011 5:39 PM:

    George Romney was a successful auto executive turned liberal Republican governor of Michigan whose adventures on the national scene were never quite successful, despite the appealing resume and urbane good looks. George Romney was last seen under a crosstown bus named the Ehrlichman Special, having been thrown there after a few years as Nixon's overly progressive housing secretary. The younger Romney is apparently counting on some mystical connection to the auto industry to give him credibility he does not deserve. Mitt is a financier, not a manufacturer. When President Ford declined to help out financially strapped New York City in the 1970s, a headline read: "Ford to City: Drop Dead." Essentially, Mitt Romney has delivered the same message: "Romney to Detroit: Drop Dead" - Perhaps he hopes that his father's good name in the state will keep him from criticism. It shouldn't.

  • exlibra on May 25, 2011 8:30 PM:

    Perhaps Mitt is confusing himself with his father's success in the automobile business - "Romney Rescues Failing Automobile Makers" is a valid historical statement, it just doesn't apply to Mitt. -- Eeyore, 20:08 PM

    You know, you may have something there. IIRC, it wouldn't be the first time, either, that he saw himself as a noble figure in his own mind and then went on to belive it. I think there was something (in his '08 campaign) about marching with ML King, too

    To add to your collection: "asisith situations"; in certain situations (mostly happening while he was asleep and dreaming), Mitt assisted the automotive industry. He was about 3 at the time and still baby-lisping.