There are a lot of kind words for Mitt Romney on the Detroit News editorial page Wednesday. But by trying to hide the few words that weren’t very nice, the Romney campaign could lose the narrative — and the goodwill of the paper.
The News endorsed Romney with less than a week to go in the Michigan primary race. It’s a must-win state for Romney and polls show he needs all the help he can get when it comes to convincing Republican Michiganders to get on board. All in all it was a nice editorial for the campaign (subhead: “State native offers the best resume, temperament and electability of the remaining Republican field”). But there was one graph where the paper took strong issue with Romney over the issue of the auto bailout, which has dogged him since the Michigan race began in earnest.
The Romney campaign apparently felt it best to drop that part down the memory hole. In a blast email version of the News editorial sent out to reporters Wednesday morning from the Romney press shop, this paragraph from the editorial was missing:
We disagree with Romney on a point vital to Michigan — his opposition to the bailout of the domestic automobile industry. Romney advocated for a more traditional bankruptcy process, while we believe the bridge loans provided by the federal government in the fall of 2008 were absolutely essential to the survival of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. The issue isn’t a differentiator in the GOP primary, since the entire field opposed the rescue effort.
The edit is obvious:
• Here’s the version he sent to reporters.
• Here’s the full editorial as published in the Detroit News.
As we’ve reported, the auto bailout is a real problem for Romney in Michigan. As he’s tried to shift away from the 2008 New York Times he wrote that came to define his position as “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” in order to woo voters in the actual Detroit area, he’s run afoul of conservatives and tea partiers on the right and Democrats on the left. As the News editorial shows, even his supporters don’t like the way he’s handled the bailout stuff.
The Romney campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment. It’s worth noting that the campaign was caught just a couple weeks ago editing out the less than on-message bits from the transcripts of its own conference calls before sending them out to reporters.