It's no secret President Obama is proud of the taxpayer-funded government intervention that rescued U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler back in 2009. He regularly takes credit for the companies' resurgent profitability and hiring as one of his top achievements.
Now, Republicans say Obama is suggesting on the campaign trail that he wants to do it again, this time in other sectors of the economy, in order to "get the hand of government driving every industry in America."
"From his failed stimulus bill and Solyndra-esque boondoggles to picking winners and losers at taxpayer expense in the auto bailout, President Obama has pushed aside free-market principles in favor of bigger and more intrusive government," Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Thursday after Obama ended his Colorado campaign swing.
Saul and the Romney campaign point to a line Obama used this week on the stump when discussing the auto bailout and his economic vision for the future as the basis for the claim.
In Pueblo, Colo., on Thursday, Obama said, "Now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry."
Later in Colorado Springs, Colo., he put it this way: "I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America."
Republicans interpreted Obama as proposing government bailouts for other industries, or at the least a more active federal government role in creating or supporting jobs - concepts anathema to many conservatives.
The Obama campaign refuted the notion as political spin that does not reflect the president's sentiment or intention, pointing to full context of the quote as evidence.
Here's what Obama said, in context:
OBAMA IN PUEBLO: "We've got a bunch of examples of the differences, the choice in this election. When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, more than 1 million jobs at stake, Gov. Romney said, let's 'let Detroit go bankrupt.' I said I believe in American workers, I believe in this American industry, and now the American auto industry has come roaring back and GM is number one again. So now, I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry. I don't want those jobs taking root in places like China. I want them taking root in places like Pueblo. Gov. Romney brags about his private sector experience, but it was mostly investing in companies, some of which were called "pioneers" of outsourcing. I don't want to be a pioneer of outsourcing. I want to in-source. I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas."
OBAMA IN COLORADO SPRINGS: "This difference in vision, it shows up on all sorts of issues. When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse, 1 million jobs at stake, Mr. Romney said, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt.' I said, let's bet on America's workers. And we got management and workers to come together, making better cars than ever. And now, GM is number one again and the American auto industry has come roaring back. So now, I want to say what we did with the auto industry, we can do it in manufacturing across America. Let's make sure advanced, high-tech manufacturing jobs take root here, not in China. Let's have them here in Colorado. And that means supporting investment here."