"Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive." That's the message Vice President Joe Biden is hammering home as the campaign barrels toward November — and there's no easier way to make politics-averse "GM executives cringe," say Nathan Bomey and Todd Spangler at The Detroit Free Press. Of course, the auto giant probably wouldn't be here if it hadn't received billions of dollars from the government in 2009, making GM a hot topic on the campaign trail. Indeed, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's running mate, caused a huge controversy when he suggested that President Obama was to blame for the closure of a GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. GM has responded to all this political debate in a unilateral way: By barring all candidates — including Obama and Romney — from visiting any of its plants. Here, a guide to GM's allergic reaction to the November elections:
Why is GM so skittish about the election?
GM is "loath to appear siding with one party or another," since it relies on all "Americans to buy its products," says Fox News. And with the government still holding a 32 percent stake in the company, GM doesn't want to be known as "Government Motors," as some conservatives have dubbed it. "It's an understatement to say we can't wait for November to get here," Bob Ferguson, GM's vice president for global public policy, tells Bomey and Spangler.
Is its no-candidate policy unique?
No. Chrysler also announced that it would no longer allow candidates at its plants. However, Chrysler has repaid the aid it received from the government, and has played a smaller role in the debate over the auto bailout. Ford, which survived the recession without a bailout, has long barred candidates from its properties. GM has also taken the further step of telling Obama and Romney that they can't feature footage of GM plants in their advertisements.
Are Obama and Romney going to back off?
No. The auto bailout is expected to be brought up constantly at the Democratic National Convention in early September, since the White House believes it's a popular policy among swing voters, particularly in the battleground state of Ohio. Romney, meanwhile, is expected to continue attacking Obama for "crony capitalism" and wasting taxpayer dollars. (It bears remembering that the auto bailout began in 2008, under President Bush, and was broadened when Obama got into office.)
Will GM's strategy work?
Probably not. GM's strategy of duck-and-cover is pretty pointless — "there really isn't any place to hide," says Ted Reed at The Street. The company is going to be "dragged into a dysfunctional political system" whether it likes it or not, since "banning candidates from GM plants isn't going to make the auto bailout any less of a contentious issue."