Mitt Romney certainly isn’t making friends with Chrysler and GM.
As we wrote earlier today at msnbc.com, the two American auto giants are hitting back at the Republican presidential nominee’s claim that they’re expanding production in China at the expense of American jobs. It’s rare for them to wade into partisan politics, but one analyst tell’s Hardball’s Chris Matthews the ads were “too outrageous and misleading not to respond to.”
The ads for television and radio are running in Ohio—the most critical battleground state in the country—and seek to connect the president to a report saying Chrysler plans to move Jeep production to China. Another Romney ad claims under Obama, G.M. cut 15,000 American jobs. “But they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China,” it says.
A G.M. spokesman Greg Martin told the Detroit Free Press that “we’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”
Meanwhile, Chrysler’s chief executive Sergio Marchionne sent an email to employees saying “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”
Chrysler does plan to start hiring more Chinese workers to build Jeeps in China—but not at the expense of American jobs, as Romney suggests. No U.S. jobs are being shipped overseas. Instead, the Chinese-made Jeeps are a new enterprise intended to allow a U.S. company to further expand into the Chinese auto market, where a growing middle-class has created huge demand for vehicles
Bill Vlasic, the New York Times Detroit Bureau chief told msnbc’s Chris Matthews on Wednesday that it was “very unusual” for the two companies to respond to political ads.
“They both took a vow of silence during this political campaign to try and stay as far away from partisan politics as possible. But as one G.M. executive told me, this ad crossed a line. It was too outrageous and misleading not to respond to,” Vlasic added.
Matthews said it seems to him that the reality is “we build Jeeps in this country for people to buy them in this country … and we build Jeeps in China for Chinese people to buy. That’s the way it’s been and it’s the way it will be.”
Steve Rattner—who served as the lead auto advisor in the U.S. Treasury Department under President Obama—agreed, but noted the U.S. does export Jeeps because it’s an iconic brand.
“But we do want these companies to make cars close to where their customers are,” Rattner said.
“We want Chrysler to be profitable. We want General Motors to profitable. And these are all good things, not bad things, from the standpoint of the American taxpayer and the American citizens.”