Republican nominee Mitt Romney is running a new TV ad that implies Chrysler is planning to move U.S. auto jobs to China, though that is not the case.
Romney provoked an outcry after he told a crowd in Defiance, Ohio on Thursday: “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. I will fight for every good job in America.”
The story, by Bloomberg News, starts out in a confusing manner by saying that Fiat, the majority owner of Chrysler, “plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in that country.”
The piece goes on to say, however, that Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, and any production sites in China would be new ones making cars for Chinese buyers.
Romney’s statement in Defiance prompted a blog post by Gualberto Ranieri, Chrysler’s senior vice president for corporate communications. “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It’s simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world’s largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation,” he wrote.
Despite the controversy, Romney launched a TV ad Sunday that could lead viewers to conclude Chrysler was indeed going to shift Jeep production to China. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job,” the ad says. Text on the screen quotes Bloomberg’s phrase about returning Jeep output to China.
With this ad, Romney is going right at Obama’s major strength in Ohio: his 2009 bailout of the auto industry that is responsible for some 800,000 jobs in the state.
The ad is correct in saying that Obama took Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy (narration that’s illustrated with footage of cars being crushed). What the ad doesn’t say is that Obama helped the car companies through the process by providing government loans, which Romney opposed.
Romney, in his famous “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” op-ed in The New York Times in 2008, said the companies should be required to rely on private capital until after the bankruptcy. But most analysts agree there was none available in the depths of the recession, and without the bailout the two companies would have likely died –possibly taking down with them the supply chain and Ford.