Mitt Romney famously called Tesla Motors a “loser” company during his run for president. He lost, of course, and Tesla is by any measure winning. And so we see would-be presidential candidates lining up behind the Silicon Valley carmaker as its fight against auto dealers becomes a potential breakout issue in the 2016 election.
In dispute are bans several states have against Tesla stores selling cars directly from the company instead of through third-party dealers. The most recent ban was enacted in New Jersey with the support of Gov. Chris Christie, a possible contender for the GOP nomination. That prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Christie rival, to heartily defend Tesla’s direct sales model.
“It’s an established product,” Rubio told CNBC. “Customers should be allowed to buy products that fit their need, especially a product that we know is safe and has consumer confidence beneath it.”