On a conference call with Wisconsin supporters on Wednesday, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney laughingly told the story of his father closing an auto factory in Michigan.
Romney’s story focused on an incident over 50 years ago in which his father, American Motors executive George Romney, shut down a factory in Michigan and shifted the work to Wisconsin.
Audio of Romney’s “humorous” anecdote is below:
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal has a partial transcript of Romney’s comments:
“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,” explained Romney, who described a subsequent campaign parade in which the school band marching with his father knew how to play Wisconsin’s fight song, but not Michigan’s.
“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,” said Romney, laughing.
Romney’s opponents have wasted no time in using the gaffe as another way to paint Romney as an out of touch plutocrat. Lis Smith, a spokesman for President Obama’s re-election campaign, said in an email to The Atlantic: “Adding to his list of completely out-of-touch moments, today Mitt Romney recounted to Wisconsin voters on a tele-town hall a ‘humorous’ story about his father closing a factory in Michigan.”
Similarly, the Democratic National Committee urged voters in a statement to “file this one under the ever-growing ‘Romney wealth gaffes’ category.”
The gaffe won’t make it any easier for Romney to restore his standing in Michigan. According to recent polls, Romney trails President Obama by double digits in the state where he was born.