RACINE, WI – Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan joined the GOP offensive against the 2009 auto bailout engineered by President Barack Obama, arguing the rescue of GM and Chrysler hardly constitutes the success story the administration claims.
"Everybody wants a strong and vibrant auto sector. We want a strong manufacturing sector. But today you might have heard that Joe Biden again was at it again. Today he was talking about the government bailout, which they keep touting as an unqualified success story,” Ryan said, citing two plants in his home state of Wisconsin where production was halted following the bailout.
"The facts, they speak for themselves. President Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, taxpayers still stand to lose $25 billion dollars in the president's politically managed bankruptcy," Ryan said. "These companies, Chrysler in particular we know this story, are now choosing to expand manufacturing overseas. These are the facts. Those facts are inconvenient for the president but no one disputes them. The president and the vice president, the problem is they simply can't defend their record."
Ryan's language adds to a late-in-the-campaign effort by the Republican to counter the president's record on the auto industry, which Obama and Vice President Joe Biden has used to great effect against Romney and Ryan in a series of battleground states where the auto industry looms large.
The auto bailouts have become a topic of major discussion as the Romney campaign launched a series of ads in Ohio that erroneously suggested Jeep was looking to shift production from the U.S. to China, earning the Republican campaign a rebuke from GM and Chrysler's corporate leadership.
The fact that Ryan had supported the bailout during its earliest stages -- in late 2008, when loans to the troubled automakers were initiated by President George W. Bush -- has further complicated the Wisconsin congressman's efforts to attack the bailout as executed by Obama.
The support for auto companies initiated by Bush was different from the support provided by Obama, who used funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to prop up GM and Chrysler and give the government an equity stake in both companies.
Ryan, like many Republicans, has focused on the suppliers, pensioners and dealerships who feel that they were shortchanged during the bankruptcy process, to the benefit of autoworkers' unions.
The Obama campaign has fought back aggressively on the issue, as Biden, speaking Wednesday in Florida, called Romney's Jeep ad an “outrageous lie” and made out of “desperation.”
“In the last hours of this campaign, if you can believe it, they're running the most scurrilous ads in Ohio ... one of the most flagrantly dishonest ads I can ever remember in my political career. In the ad they're running in Ohio, they assert that President Obama forced Chrysler into bankruptcy,” Biden said, noting the ad claimed Obama allowed Chrysler to move Jeep operations to China. ”That's what the ad says. It's an outrageous lie.”
"All my time I have never heard an American corporation in the waning hours of the campaign engage with that kind of description of what a presidential candidate's doing," Biden said after quoting a General Motors statement calling the Romney ad "campaign politics at its cynical worst."
Obama re-election campaign spokesman Danny Kanner added in response to the claims made by the Wisconsin congressman: "Ryan was forced to do Mitt Romney’s dirty work in Wisconsin today – telling blatant falsehoods about the auto rescue in a desperate attempt to salvage their campaign. But the American people aren’t going to buy it. When the American auto industry and more than one million workers’ jobs were on the line, President Obama stepped up and Mitt Romney turned his back."