Ann Romney rebuts Bill Clinton's criticisms

FLINT, MI - FEBRUARY 25: Ann Romney (L) speaks at a rally with her husband Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the Kettering University Recreation Center February 25, 2012 in Flint, Michigan. The Michigan and Arizona primaries are being held February 28.
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton said Thursday Mitt Romney's father is probably "turning over in his grave" when he hears his son criticize the government bailout of the auto industry, but Mitt Romney's wife Ann said Friday that just the opposite is true.

"Mitt's father would be cheering and would be with Mitt 100 percent," Ann Romney said on Fox News. "Because, you know, what Mitt suggested was finally what happened is that they went through a structured bankruptcy -- it's exactly what ended up happening. Mitt just said to do that before they already spent $17 billion."

She continued, "So no. Mitt's father would be cheering -- cheering with Mitt."

Romney's father, George Romney, was the chief executive of American Motors decades ago and later served as governor of Michigan.

General Motors and Chrysler were restructured as part of the $85 billion auto bailout, which started under President George W. Bush's leadership and was extended after Mr. Obama took office. Some analysts have claimed more than 1 million jobs were saved by the bailout.

Mitt Romney, like the other presidential candidates, opposed the bailout, even penning a 2008 op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." Romney has explained that letting the auto companies go bankrupt wouldn't mean liquidating them, "but allowing them to go to the bankruptcy court to reorganize and come out stronger. That's what happened."

Romney says he would have given banks federal loan guarantees so they could loan Detroit the necessary money, instead of having the government offer the loan directly. But the financial crisis created an environment in 2008 in which banks were reticent to give huge loans to the auto companies, and the White House insists the private capital wasn't there to save the companies.

On Thursday, in a speech before the United Auto Workers in Washington, Mr. Clinton said of the bailout, "This was not about the factory workers, every time I hear Mr. Romney talking about this I think his Daddy must be turning over in his grave."