Romney Takes Credit for the Auto Bailouts. Again.

Three years ago, Mitt Romney was a naysayer on the auto bailouts, warning that they would result in the destruction of the American auto industry. But now that President Obama is running on the success of the bailout, Romney has decided that he’s responsible for the revival of auto manufacturing:

“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney told a Cleveland TV station while visiting a local auto plant Monday. “So, I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.”

On this, Mitt Romney is the Winklevii to Obama’s Zuckerberg; sure, Obama developed and implemented the auto bailouts, but Romney had the same idea and therefore, he should receive the credit. My guess is that this won’t catch fire with voters, or anyone who has experience with the naysayer who claims retroactive credit for success.

Romney’s decision to reverse himself on the bailouts—or at least, deemphasize his opposition—is a sign that Obama’s emphasis is an effective political tool. As I argued a few weeks ago, there’s no chance that Romney will convince voters that he’s responsible for the bailouts, but at the very least, he can try to muddy the waters and deny Obama the full advantage.

Indeed, this might be key to improving his position in states like Ohio, where the auto bailouts saved thousands of jobs. According to the most recent survey from Public Policy Polling, Obama leads Romney in the Buckeye State, 50 percent to 43 pecent. Ohio voters don’t love Obama as much as they strongly dislike Romney—37 percent have a favorable opinion of him to 53 percent with a negative one. Among independents, his favorables drop to 33 percent, and his unfavorables increase to 59 percent.

Barring a national shift in Romney’s favor, Obama should maintain a modest lead in Ohio, and sharply limit the Republican nominee’s path to 270 electoral votes. With that in mind, I can see why Romney is eager to change his mind.

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