Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
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.