As he desperately tries to close the gap in Ohio, Mitt Romney has released an ad so dishonest that even U.S. automakers—usually wary of taking sides in a political spat—are wading in to the campaign to call him out.
In a new series of TV and radio ads, Romney’s campaign goes straight after Obama’s biggest political credential in the Buckeye State: his rescue of the auto industry, which is linked to one in eight Ohio jobs.
The ads seize on a recent report that Chrysler is mulling building Jeeps in China. The radio ad asks whether Obama rescued the auto industry for “Ohio—or China?”
It continues: “Now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in—you guessed it—China. What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio—the same hard-working men and women who were told that Obama’s auto bailout would help them?”
Last week, Romney himself had pointed to the Chrysler report on the campaign trail, telling an Ohio crowd: “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep—now owned by the Italians— is thinking of moving all production to China.”
The only problem: Chrysler made clear last week in a statement on its website that any Asian expansion is to serve Asian markets, and the company has no plan to shift U.S. jobs to China.
The Obama campaign has already hit back hard at the Romney ad, releasing one of its own that highlighted Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout, and called his stance, “wrong then, dishonest now.”
Now the automakers themselves are getting in on the act. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne called the ad “inaccurate,” and reaffirmed that the company wasn’t moving U.S. jobs to China.
And G.M. took issue with the ad’s claim that the auto rescue encouraged the industry to ship jobs abroad. Calling the ad “campaign politics at its cynical worst,” a company spokesman told the Detroit Free Press: “We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days.”
Ohio continues to be the single most crucial state in the presidential race. And despite Romney’s best efforts, Obama maintains the upper hand. A new CBS/New York Times poll out Wednesday gave the president a 5-point advantage there.