Romney Keeps Auto Industry Bailout Hot Button Issue

Republican Mitt Romney told the Detroit News, that if he's elected president, he would make sure the government sells its stake in General Motors — even if it's for a loss. Romney says President Obama is delaying the sale to avoid an embarrassing loss to taxpayers. A White House spokesman said Romney isn't credible on the auto industry since he opposed the bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the U.S. bailout of General Motors and the auto industry in 2009 has worked its way into the presidential campaign. Republican Mitt Romney says he'd sell the government stock in GM quickly if he wins the White House. A White House spokesman counters that Romney isn't credible on the issue, since he opposed the bailout that rescued the industry.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has the story.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: In an interview with the Detroit News, Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration of holding on to the government's stake in GM for political reason. The former Massachusetts Governor says the president is trying to avoid an embarrassing financial loss before the election. Romney says if elected, he'll sell the government stock quickly.

SEAN MCALINDEN: I think it would maximize the loss to the taxpayer it that was done right away.

GLINTON: Sean McAlinden is with the Center for Automotive Research. He says selling right now would mean a loss of billions but...

MCALINDEN: We probably could get certainly a better return on our investment, at least that part of it, in a year.

GLINTON: McAlinden says no one in the industry wants government involvement in GM to run in perpetuity, but he thinks the government should wait for the economy, especially in Europe, to pick up.

Most auto analysts expect the company to grow more profitable with time. Meanwhile, at executives at GM, like Greg Martin, are bracing for a long summer of being the political football.

GREG MARTIN: We expect there's going to be a lot of political theater, a lot of rhetoric between now and November. This is par for the course during a high election season. We're not going to respond every time a charge is made one way or the other.

GLINTON: Martin says he'll politics to the politicians because making cars is hard enough.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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