Mitt Romney is making the Obama administration's support for two high-end green car companies a campaign issue.
"The Obama administration has shoveled $1 billion out the door to two California-based electric car manufacturers. Fisker Automotive got a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy; Tesla got $465 million," Romney penned in an op-ed in the Orange County Register.
Romney's op-ed follows a Center for Public Integrity/ABC News investigation into the loans. That investigation found production problems at the politically-connected high-end "green" car companies, Tesla and Fisker.
The facts present an opening for Romney, who writes:
"Fisker investors, including Al Gore himself, have donated more than $1 million to political campaigns – primarily Democrats. Tesla, for its part, has financial backing from a fundraiser who bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars for the President's campaign; Tesla's CEO is also a major Democratic donor who has poured money into Obama's campaign coffers."
But perhaps the most searing for the administration: "Tesla's next vehicle is expected to list for $57,400. Fisker's car, already a year behind schedule, will cost $97,000."
The Obama administration is defending the loans, saying they'll be used to create jobs in Delaware and California, not Finland, and that the funds are for mass-market sedans -- not high-end cars.
But the optics are bad. President Obama is busy on the trail promoting his image as a populist fighter for blue-collar auto workers. The last thing his administration wants is to be defending loans to well-connected European companies that produce high-end cars. Ouch, ouch, and ouch.
You can bet Romney keeps his rapier sharpened on this one.