accept the Republican nomination for president this week at the GOP convention
When to sell shares?
Still, there are risks in taking too much credit for GM's survival, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was economic policy adviser to Republican nominee John McCain four years ago. The danger comes with the question of how much it's costing taxpayers across the country.
GM posted North American profits of $3.66 billion in the first six months of 2012, offsetting a $617-million loss in Europe. And on Friday, Fitch Ratings upgraded its credit rating, reflecting a vote of confidence GM could weather an unexpected downturn in the market.
But the stock is down 35.8% from its November 2010 initial public offering price of $33. And judging by Friday's close of $21.18, the government would lose $15.6 billion on the bailout if it sold its 500.1 million shares.
There's no easy way at present to deal with the shares, Holtz-Eakin said: "If they don't sell them, they're not really capitalists, they're socialists; and if they do sell them, and they sell them at a loss, they're bad capitalists."
Romney has said he would sell immediately, but analysts agree that he wouldn't pull the trigger on a plan to dump shares onto the market soon after taking office, which would push the stock even lower.
Ferguson, GM's vice president of global public policy, said the company has not had discussions with Romney about his comments.
"We've read what he said in the press," he said. "Of course, we're very in favor of an orderly but quick exit on behalf of the government. It would be a better day for everybody."
Avoiding the spotlight
For its part, GM has employed a duck-and-cover strategy in Washington until at least the election is over and shifted some focus to state issues, based on comments from officials and lobbying records.
GM's spending on lobbying in Washington fell 21.6% to $4.33 million in the first half of this year from $5.52 million in the first half of 2011, according to federal reports filed each quarter.
To be sure, the automaker still is actively lobbying on various federal tax issues, tariffs, energy issues and transportation regulations, including Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements, or CAFE standards. But it has chosen to be less vocal publicly about those issues.
"GM sees no purpose of taking on either party and just wishes the whole thing would go away and people would start treating them like a normal automobile company," said former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who now serves as a consultant for the company.
The company faces other political stresses, such as accusations by some conservatives that the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric car, was created to satisfy Obama's desire for more green vehicles. The Volt was first introduced as a concept vehicle at the Detroit auto show in January 2007, two years before Obama took office, and it hit showrooms in fall 2010.
The company is well aware of the bailout's impact on its image.
"In America, it's pretty polarized -- 50% think it's a good idea, 50% think it's a bad idea," said Joel Ewanick in June while attending a conference in France. "Well that's really not a good thing when you're trying to sell
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