The Romney campaign over the weekend released an ad in Ohio claiming President Barack Obama “took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.”
The reaction from the left was swift and furious.
“Romney has become THE [sic] definition of a desperate & deceptive candidate as he airs a completely false ad on Jeep moving to China,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland tweeted.
Others were a little less polished in their criticisms.
“There’s basic dishonesty and then there’s f-you dishonesty -- dishonesty so blatant, so consciously abusive of facts that everyone knows, that it deserves a category of its own. Kato Keilin: dishonesty. O.J.: f-you dishonesty,” The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky writes.
“Romney’s new ad about Jeeps and Italy is f-you dishonest,” he adds.
Even former President Bill Clinton weighed in on the ad:
Is the ad as dishonest as they say it is? Let’s look at the facts.
During a campaign stop in Defiance, Ohio, last Thursday, Romney claimed that Jeep was mulling a proposal to move “all” production to China.
"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," Romney told the crowd of Ohioan supporters.
This is not true.
Romney was referring a recent a Bloomberg report that states the following:
Fiat SpA (F), majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC, plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in that country, according to the head of both automakers’ operations in the region.
Mike Manley, chief operating officer of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia, is also quoted as saying: “Fiat [the majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC] is in ‘very detailed conversations’ with its Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. (2238), about making Jeeps in the world’s largest auto market.”
But what this means is that Fiat is considering adding Jeep production sites in China, not moving all of them out of the U.S.
Chrysler even issued a formal statement on the matter:
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. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.
If the Romney ad accused President Obama of being somehow tied to all Jeep production being moved to China, that would be flat-out untrue.
However, this is what the ad states: “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.”
Technically, none of this is inaccurate. President Obama did take GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, the U.S. Treasury Department did sell its stake in Chrysler to Fiat, and Fiat is considering adding production jobs in China.
But what do you think the ad is trying to say?
Bottom Line: Without providing the full context of Fiat’s China talks, the Romney ad offers an incomplete picture of Jeep's situation and is therefore misleading. Now we're not sure if it quite rises to the level of O. J. Simpson "f-you dishonesty" or whether it's as dishonest as accusing someone of killing a steelworker's wife with cancer, but it's misleading nonetheless.
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This story has been updated.