Continuing its assault on a misleading ad by Mitt Romney about the auto bailout, President Obama’s campaign has launched a television commercial accusing the Republican of a “lie” for suggesting Jeep would shift American jobs to China.
The 30-second ad follows sharp rebukes by Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton and signals how important the administration considers the auto bailout in differentiating itself from Romney in key industrial states like Ohio.
The Obama ad says Romney “turned his back” on the auto industry when it faced collapse. That’s a reference to the challenger’s preference to let the auto companies go through “managed” bankruptcies, without assistance from the government, rather than with direct support from the U.S. Treasury.
“Even the conservative Detroit News criticized Romney for his ‘wrong-headedness on the auto bailout,’ “ the ad’s narrator says, showing a newspaper headline that confirms that opinion. “And now, after Romney’s false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China, Chrysler itself has refuted Romney’s lie.”
The Obama spot responds to a Romney ad that says Obama “took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians, who are going to build Jeeps in China.”
Multiple independent analysts have found Romney’s ad grossly misleading. Obama directed the two car companies into a brief bankruptcy but it was part of a restructuring financed by the federal government in order to reorganize the companies and keep them alive.
As to selling Chrysler “to the Italians,” industry expert David Kiley of AOL Autos gave the missing context: “Italian automaker Fiat was the only company that stepped up to make an offer for Chrysler, which badly needed another car company with which to partner. Fiat's intervention has kept the company in one piece, saved Chrysler from dissolution, increased the quality ratings of the company's products, raised its market share and profit, and resulted in a huge recovery of jobs in Michigan and Ohio.”
The Romney ad’s claim about Chrysler building Jeeps in China is, again, literally true. But it leaves out the fact that this is unrelated to American jobs and that the company has also increased production in the U.S. Chrysler released a statement saying it had "no intention" of shifting production out of the U.S. to China.
The Obama ad counters with another newspaper headline, from The Blade of Toledo, Ohio: “Jeep Expansion to add 1,100 jobs.”
The kicker to the Obama spot is: “Mitt Romney on Ohio jobs. Wrong then. Dishonest now.” Cut into the middle of that hit is a brief clip of a smiling Romney saying “Let Detroit go bankrupt.”
Clearly, team Obama feels the auto bailout has been an important wall for support for the president. They are not about to allow it to be assaulted by misleading claims from the challenger.