Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, debated his opponent Rob Portman, the Republican incumbent, at the City Club in Cleveland. Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, debated his opponent Rob Portman, the Republican incumbent, at the City Club in Cleveland.

Ted Strickland, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, debated his opponent Rob Portman, the Republican incumbent, at the City Club in Cleveland.

Allison Graves
By Allison Graves October 20, 2016

Did Rob Portman call the auto bailout a 'lousy deal'?

Former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland didn’t waste any time attacking Republican Sen. Rob Portman for opposing the 2009 automotive bailout and calling it a "lousy deal."

"He said the auto rescue was a lousy deal for Ohio," Strickland told an audience during his opening statement at the third Senate debate in Cleveland.

This isn’t the first time Strickland made this claim. Strickland made the charge in front of some Ohio delegates during a meeting held the week of the Democratic National Convention, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

We wondered if Strickland was right. Did Portman call the automotive bailout a "lousy deal?"

Strickland’s campaign said the remark in question comes from a 2009 statement from Portman, who was a candidate for Senate that year but was not yet in office. The campaign accessed the news release using the Wayback Machine, an Internet Archive website.

"The General Motors bankruptcy plan Washington announced today is a lousy deal for Ohio," reads the statement. "Taxpayers, including hard working Ohioans, are investing $50 billion in a GM plan that we now find includes shutting down plants in Mansfield, Parma, and Columbus, Ohio. The reason for this unprecedented taxpayer bailout and government intervention was to preserve jobs. Instead, for our $50 Billion taxpayer investment, thousands more workers will see their jobs disappear. Ohio deserves better than this."

That’s the only direct reference to "lousy" Strickland’s campaign sent PolitiFact Ohio, but they also sent an article from the Columbus Dispatch that quotes Portman’s former spokesperson in 2011 saying Portman still thinks "the auto bailout was not a good deal for Ohio."

Portman’s campaign told PolitiFact Ohio that although Portman was not in office when the bailout launched, he would have supported the auto rescue.

As evidence of this, Portman’s campaign pointed to a 2010 U.S. Senate debate against Democrat Lee Fisher. Portman was asked if he would have supported the 2009 bailout, which Portman responded to with a "yes," while also mentioning he would have liked to see "more conditions" in the bailout.

"$50 billion of our taxpayer money went to a private entity that the government essentially took over, and then they closed four plants here in Ohio." Portman said at the debate. "So, if I had been in office at the time I would have supported it, but I would have been sure that Ohio didn’t fall behind."

Our ruling

Strickland said Portman "said the auto rescue was a lousy deal for Ohio."

As a candidate for Senate, Portman did call the 2009 automotive bailouts of GM and Chrysler a "lousy deal" in a press release from 2009. Strickland cited this remark without including the fact Portman said he still would have supported the bailout.

Strickland’s claim is accurate, but needs a slight clarification. We rate Strickland’s claim Mostly True.

Our Sources

Email interview, Michawn Rich, Rob Portman spokesperson, Oct. 20, 2016

Email interview, David Bergstein, Ted Strickland spokesperson, Oct. 20, 2016

The Wayback Machine, "Statement by Rob Portman on General Motors Bankruptcy Plan," Aug. 26, 2010

The Columbus Dispatch, "Strickland, Portman spar over 2009 automotive industry bailout," July 28, 2016

The Columbus Dispatch, "Strickland touting auto bailout successes," May 25, 2011

 

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