DETROIT, Mich. - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder found himself playing defense over Mitt Romney's opposition to the bailout of the auto industry just hours after he endorsed the former Massachusetts governor's bid for the presidency.
"Instead of spending any time talking about the past, I would rather be asking all the candidates the question, 'What are you going to do to drop the unemployment rate in half?'" Snyder told reporters at the Oakland County Lincoln Day Dinner. "That's what our citizens really care about, not the auto bailout, but, what are we going to do to do more and better jobs for the future?"
Michigan voters, he said, should not spend a lot of time "dwelling" on Romney's vocal opposition to the 2008 bailout.
The government's financial rescue of the domestic auto industry is credited with staving off economic disaster in Michigan, which is heavily reliant on auto manufacturing. Romney has had to defend his opposition to the deal as he tries to eke out a win in the state's Feb. 28 primary. Fortunately for the former governor, his chief rival, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, also opposed the bailout.
Romney can ill afford to lose support in Michigan, where he is trailing Santorum in the polls despite his status as the native son. His father, George Romney, is a former governor of the state and Romney was born and raised there.
Snyder supported the auto bailout and is backing Romney, although he declined to criticize Santorum. "I don't spend time on negatives issues," said Snyder, who like Romney is a former businessman who specialized in corporate takeovers. "I really find common ground issues, and I found a lot of common ground with Governor Romney and that's why I'm supporting him."