Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday called the chairman and CEO of General Motors a "sacrificial lamb" after the White House asked Rick Wagoner to step down as a precondition for government aid.
Interviewed Monday on NBC's "Today" show, Granholm noted that Wagoner has worked for GM for more than 30 years and was trying to turn the company around.
She said that Wagoner agreed to step aside for the good of the carmaker and its workers.
U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter, R-Mich., also said Wagoner's resignation amounts to a "political offering."
In a written statement released Sunday night, McCotter complained that the Obama administration was applying tougher standards to Detroit than Wall Street as both continue to seek government assistance.
"Now Mr. Wagoner has been asked to resign as a political offering despite his having led GM's painful restructuring to date," McCotter said. "Mr. Wagoner has honorably resigned for the sake of his company's working families. When will the Wall Street CEO's receiving TARP funds summon the honor to resign? Will this White House ever bother to raise the issue? I doubt it."
The Obama administration announced late Sunday that neither GM nor Chrysler had come up with acceptable business plans to merit receiving additional federal bailout money. The two automakers were each given a short deadline to try one last time to persuade Washington they're worth saving.
President Obama said Monday the companies will be granted additional time to present better business plans.
U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., praised Obama's announcement, though he did not specifically mention Wagoner's resignation.
â€œIt is now up to all of the involved parties to take the necessary and effective steps on a path that allows us to weather the global financial crisis and economic recession and reaffirms a strong domestic auto industry," Levin said in a statement.
Administration officials denied Wagoner was asked to leave as a condition for receiving more government aid.
"We wanted to start GM with a clean sheet of paper. We felt the change in leadership would assist that," one official said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.