By Tim Kiska

The fallout from Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate will continue well into 2012 — even after people stop talking about Texas Governor Rick Perry’s goofball 53-second collapse.

Mitt Romney said he was down on the federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. He is already on record as saying so, notably in his New York Times op-ed piece headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.

But Romney went one stop further Wednesday night, saying that “giving the companies to the UAW was wrong.”

Actually, it didn’t quite happen that way. A UAW-managed trust landed a 17.5 percent stake in GM, but that trust pays for retiree health care. The government didn’t “give” away anything. (For the record, the UAW’s stake in GM is now down to 10 percent.)

Democrats immediately attacked Romney on the others on the bailout question. And that question may be the question in Michigan during the upcoming presidential season.

Two separate EPIC-MRA polls showed that 65 percent-70 percent of those surveyed in Michigan thought the bailout was a good idea. Those that support it say GM and Chrysler couldn’t have survived a managed bankruptcy proceeding—despite what Romney says.

What would have happened next – an economically lethal domino effect – would have crippled Michigan, if not the nation.

Auto suppliers to GM and Chrysler would, undoubtedly, have been swept under by the tsunami. Their dealership structures would have sunk, with the wreckage extending to corner gas stations and bars in the shadows of those now-darkened factories.

The Democrats are pointing this out. President Obama has already made nine trips to the state this year. By way of comparison, he made one trip to the state during his 2008 campaign, a quick stop on Labor Day, 2008.

Rick Perry may have trouble remembering which federal agency he would trash if he made it to the White House.

But, judging from local post-debate commentary, voters will be reminded of Romney’s position often.


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