Senate Democratic candidate Ted Strickland and Republican Sen. Rob Portman engaged in a testy dispute over the 2009 federal rescue of the automotive industry with Strickland charging that Portman opposed the bailout as a “lousy deal” for Ohio.
“Can you imagine a senator from the state of Ohio opposing the auto rescue and all of the thousands and thousands of jobs related to that vital industry?” Strickland told Democratic delegates from Ohio at the Democratic National Convention.
“Well let me tell you — Rob Portman said the auto rescue was a lousy deal for Ohio,” Strickland said. “Let me tell you what would have been lousy — all of those jobs being lost.”
Portman’s campaign sharply responded that Strickland, who served as governor of Ohio from 2007 through the first month of 2010, had simply cherry picked a single Portman comment that the package was a “lousy deal” for Ohio while omitting Portman’s assertion he still would have backed the bailout.
Portman, who was not in office at the time the Obama administration launched the $79.6 billion rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, said even though he did not like the conditions of the bailout, he would have supported the administration plan.
During a 2010 U.S. Senate debate against Democrat Lee Fisher, Portman said he “would have liked to have seen more conditions” because billions of dollars in “taxpayer money went to a private entity that the government essentially took over and then they closed four plants here in Ohio.”
“So, if I had been in office at the time I would have supported it, but I would have been sure that Ohio didn’t fall behind,” Portman said during the debate.
The money for the automotive rescue came from a $700 billion financial rescue package approved by Congress in the final months of President George W. Bush’s second term.
The federal government eventually would recover all but $9.26 billion of that money. But supporters of the rescue package say without federal intervention, General Motors and Chrysler would have collapsed, costing tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio.
The race between Portman and Strickland is regarded as crucial if Democrats hope to gain back control of the U.S. Senate.
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