I thought Gov. Romney did well last night. But however credible and reassuring he sounded through most of the 90 minutes, that success was offset by the harm he did himself in these two paragraphs:
MR. ROMNEY: I just want to take one of those points. Again, attacking me is not talking about an agenda for getting more trade and opening up more jobs in this country. But the president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they’d — they’d built up.
And fortunately the president picked —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor Romney, that’s not what you said.
MR. ROMNEY: Fortunately, the president — you can take — you can take a look at the op-ed.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Governor, you did not —
MR. ROMNEY: You can take a look at the op-ed.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You did not say that you would provide, Governor, help.
MR. ROMNEY: You know, I’m — I’m still speaking. I said that we would provide guarantees and — and that was what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry — of course not. Of course not.
That's four mentions of the word "bankruptcy" in the space of - what? three minutes. You know and I know that Romney meant "reorganization." But that's not what the Midwestern auto worker - or his wife - heard on their TV last night. They heard "bankruptcy." Again and again and again and again.