Stabenow: Michigan Working Families Deserve Apology from Romney

Outsourcing of Manufacturing Jobs No Laughing Matter

For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Nate Byer, 313.434.2158

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today called on Mitt Romney to apologize for laughing about a closed Michigan auto plant yesterday on the campaign trail.  According to news reports, while talking with Wisconsin voters, Romney recalled a "humorous" story about his father closing a Michigan auto plant and moving production to Wisconsin. The elder Romney's action put thousands of Michigan residents out of work.  Mitt Romney went on to laugh about how laying off so many people naturally became "a sensitive issue" that his father had to deal with when he later decided to run for governor. 

Stabenow said today that Romney finding anything “humorous” about 4,300 lost jobs shows how disconnected Romney is from the devastating effect plant closures and outsourcing has had on middle class families and called for Romney to apologize.

"Mr. Romney owes Michigan’s middle class families an apology. There’s nothing humorous about a story that involves the layoff of 4,300 workers,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said.  "The people of Michigan know better than anyone that when jobs are exported to other states or other countries, real people, real families, real communities suffer.”

According to audio posted by ABC News, Romney said the following yesterday afternoon:

“I have a few connections with the state of Wisconsin.  One of the most humorous, I think, relates to my father. You may remember that my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors, and they made Ramblers and Jeeps, and they had a factory in Michigan and they had a factory in Kenosha, WI, and another one in Milwaukee, WI.

“And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan, and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now, later he decided to run for Governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign, and I recall at one parade where he was going down the streets, he was lead by a band, and they had a high school band that was leading each of the candidates, and his band did not know how to play the Michigan fight song.

“They only knew how to play the Wisconsin fight song, so every time they would start playing ‘On, Wisconsin,’ ‘On, Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop because they didn’t want people in MI to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” said Romney, letting out a laugh.

CNN Report featuring Senator Stabenow follows:

Romney joke draws Democratic criticism
Posted by CNN Political Unit

(CNN) – To Mitt Romney, it was a humorous story about his father’s gubernatorial campaign and a marching band. But Democrats saw it as an illustration of an “out-of-touch” millionaire.

On a Wednesday morning conference call with Wisconsin voters, the presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts governor joked about how his father, the American Motors president who went on to be governor of Michigan, joked that a band leading his father in a parade didn’t know the Michigan fight song, but knew the one for neighboring Wisconsin.

“So every time they would start playing, ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” Romney said, chuckling.

By “moved production,” Romney was referring to his father’s decision to “close the factory in Michigan and move all of the production to Wisconsin.”

“And so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all of the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign,” Romney said of his father.

Any response – positive or negative – wasn’t audible to reporters, and on such conference calls, participants are usually muted unless invited to ask a question.

But Democrats pounced on his comment.

"The only things more out-of-touch than Mitt Romney’s 'joke' about his dad closing a factory are his policies that would give massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and allow insurance companies to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions,” Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s reelection effort, said. “He continues to be callous about the struggles that ordinary Americas face and his policies would make it harder – not easier – for anyone but the very wealthy to succeed."

The Democratic National Committee said “Romney just doesn’t seem to get it.”

“Mitt Romney may call himself a ‘Son of Detroit’ but he just can’t help showing how out of touch he really is. Whether he’s saying we should ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’ or joking with voters in Wisconsin about his dad closing a Michigan factory to move production to Wisconsin, Romney just doesn’t seem to get it,” the DNC said in a statement.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, described this as an example of intra-national outsourcing.

"The people of Michigan know better than anyone that it's no laughing matter when our jobs are exported to other states or other countries. Outsourcing has had a devastating impact on the middle class,” she said in a statement. “Americans deserve leaders who understand the challenges working families face. It’s no laughing matter when jobs are shipped away."

In response, a spokesperson for Romney's campaign pointed to the car dealerships closed during Obama's first term in office.

"Under President Obama, more Americans have lost their jobs, lost their homes and fallen into poverty than at any time since the Great Depression," Amanda Henneberg said. "It’s clear the Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid talking about Obama’s colossal failures, including ginning up fake outrage about a campaign story from 40 years ago involving Mitt Romney’s father.”

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I endorse Debbie because this election is crucial for the future of the country, for the future of my little grandson and for the future of all the other Michigan children.

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Ann Arbor Township