Former US president Bill ClintonGoogle Images

Mitt Romney received a major dressing down from former President Bill Clinton this week for opposing the U.S. auto bailout. Clinton contended that the Republican presidential hopeful's late father must be "turning over in his grave."

"Every time I hear Mr. Romney talking about this, I think his daddy must be turning over in his grave," Clinton said in his speech to the United Auto Workers in Washington this week. "We could not afford to lose a million and a half to 2 million jobs."

The former President reminded the crowd that Romney's father, George Romney, was the chief executive of American Motors and served as governor of Michigan for three terms. With his deep roots in the auto industry, Romney's father would have fought for the future and the livliehoods of all attached to the auto industry in the state, Clinton argued.

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Romney opposed the bailout in a 2008, writing in the New York Times that "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye" if GM, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout their chief executives were looking for in 2008.

Now, with the success of the Obama administration's interventions, Romney was forced to defend his position whilst campaigning for the Michigan primary this week, which he won on Tuesday.

"No way would we allow the auto industry to totally implode and disappear," Romney said. "It would go through bankruptcy."

In sharp contrast to Romeny's view Clinton told the United Auto Workers he had nothing but praise for President Barack Obama for his handling of the bailout, which he called his greatest achievement.

"I happened to think this auto industry package is the most important thing that was initiated by President Obama and the administration," Clinton said, in a report that ran in the Daily Mail this weekend.

Both GM and Chrysler and their suppliers, dealers and auto financing firms took around $80 billion in government aid in bailouts which were started in late 2008 by President George W. Bush and continued by President Obama.

Bush last month told the nation's auto dealers he would "do it again" because he did not want to see "21 percent unemployment" in the United States, or the prospect of the nation falling into a severe depression. Analysts say the bailout saved the jobs of more than a million workers directly and indirectly related to the auto industry.

"It wasn't a bailout, it was a restructuring, it was a structured bankruptcy," Clinton told the union workers. "What was the alternative? Abolish all pensions and ask you to work for the minimum wage? That is not the America I want to live in."

Clinton concluded: "Taxpayers will be made whole and we will have saved the American auto industry. Taxpayers need to know they already got half their money."