Hillary Clinton subtly swipes at Mitt Romney over auto bailout

While she was still a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton voted for the Detroit auto bailout in December 2008.

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton knocks those who wanted to "Let Detroit go bankrupt"
  • Clinton argued the decision would have "let manufacturing just wither away"
  • Mitt Romney famously wrote an oped titled "Let Detroit go bankrupt" in 2008
  • The oped was used effectively against Romney during his failed 2012 presidential run
Hillary Clinton cribbed a page from President Barack Obama's playbook on Thursday by taking a swipe at Mitt Romney's 2008 oped, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
At an event outside Detroit, where the former secretary of state endorsed Democrats Mark Schauer and Gary Peters, Clinton spoke glowingly of their support for the 2008 auto bailout that invested billions into the United States struggling auto industry.
"Now, they could take the safe way, they could line up with those saying 'Let Detroit go bankrupt,' let manufacturing just wither away," Clinton said to a chorus of boos. "They could be on the side of those who were criticizing what they called government motors."
Though Clinton never mentioned Romney by name, the comment appeared to be directed at him, as well as Schauer's and Peters' Republican opponents.
Romney unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012 and famously wrote on opinion-editorial for The New York Times in 2008 that urged letting the big three auto companies -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- go into a structured bankruptcy.
"If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye," Romney wrote. "It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed."
Clinton voted in favor of the auto bailout when she returned to the Senate from her failed presidential campaign in 2008.
Romney's editorial, though written years before, was a staple of the Obama attack against Romney in 2012. The campaign used the recovery of the auto industry to label the former Massachusetts governor as out-of-touch. Obama would regularly say that he "refused to let Detroit go bankrupt."
Clinton's comments are particularly striking given the probability that she runs for president and the recent chatter that Romney will try to run for president for a third time.
"We'll see what happens," Romney told New York Times Magazine last month. His wife, Ann Romney, told CNN earlier today that she is still "done" with the idea of another presidential bid, but adds "you know, you never do say never."
Clinton used more of her speech to talk about the auto industry and the decision to approve a bailout.
"They," Clinton said, referring to people who wanted the companies go into bankruptcy, "were willing to walk away from the people of this state, the jobs, the auto industry, the future."
Later she added, "There are some choices that define career and define what people are made out of. There are choices that shape your whole life. This was a choice that would change the future of an industry, a state and a nation."