FORT WORTH, Texas—Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of sitting on the government's 26 percent stake in General Motors in order to avoid an embarrassing financial loss before Election Day.
In an interview with the Detroit News, Romney said he would immediately sell the government's stake in GM if he wins the presidency, even if it meant taking a loss.
"There is no reason for the government to continue to hold (its GM stake)," Romney told the paper in an interview published Tuesday. "The president is delaying the sale of the shares to try and avoid the story that the taxpayer took another loss. I would get the company independent from government and run for the interests of the consumer and the enterprise and its workers—not for the political considerations of government officials."
Per the Detroit News, the government would lose roughly $16 billion on its $49.5 billion investment in GM if the stock were sold today.
Romney, a Michigan native whose father was a top auto industry executive, has come under intense criticism for his position on the auto bailouts. He argued in a 2008 New York Times op-ed that the government should allow the car companies to go through bankruptcy rather than intervene financially.
In his interview with the Detroit News, Romney offered an even more nuanced description of his position on the bailouts, allowing that he would have supported some government assistance after the companies went through the bankruptcy process.
"If they needed help coming out of bankruptcy and government support, that was fine, but I was not in favor of the government writing billions of dollars in checks prior to them going into bankruptcy," Romney said in the interview. He accused Democrats of "distorting" his position on the issue.
In a statement issued by the Obama campaign, Michigan Rep. Sander Levin trashed Romney's comments, calling them "outlandish."
"The simple fact is that GM and Chrysler would never have survived long enough to undergo a private bankruptcy without the federal rescue loans," Levin said. "Mitt Romney knows he was wrong, and now that the auto industry is coming back and creating jobs, his attempts to rewrite history are getting more desperate every day."
Romney also suggested he might back off Obama's efforts to double fuel-efficiency requirements for passenger vehicles. He told the Detroit News he'd seek a "better way of encouraging fuel economy."