Obama campaign accuses Romney of dishonesty on Jeep issue


A new Obama campaign television ad that hits the airwaves today in Toledo blasts Republican Mitt Romney over his campaign's claims that Jeep's Italian owners plan to move Jeep production to China.

The spot rebuts Mr. Romney's statement about Jeep from last Thursday to a Defiance rally crowd, and tweaked in a TV ad over the weekend.

"After Romney's false claim of Jeep outsourcing to China, Chrysler itself has refuted Romney's lie," the Obama narrator says, again reminding viewers that Mr. Romney advocated "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" in a 2008 newspaper article.

The ad also alludes to The Detroit News, which endorsed Mr. Romney, as criticizing his "wrongheadedness on the auto bailout." It then says the truth is that "Chrysler is adding jobs in Ohio," quoting a Blade article reporting plans to hire 1,100 new workers for the Toledo operation.

Mr. Romney last Thursday told a crowd of 12,000 people at a rally in Defiance that, "“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, I’m going to fight to make sure trade is fair.”

RELATED VIDEO: Romney campaign's Jeep ad

That statement appeared to be based on a report out the same day by the conservative publication, The Washington Examiner. That report said that, "In another potential blow for the president's Ohio reelection campaign, Jeep, the rugged brand President Obama once said symbolized American freedom, is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China."

Chrysler quickly released a statement that the report was inaccurate, but rated accurate a story from Bloomberg News three days earlier reporting that Fiat plans to resume building Jeeps in China to sell in the Chinese market.

On Saturday, the Romney campaign began airing an ad in Toledo and Youngstown saying that Chrysler "plans to return Jeep output to China."

The dispute over who was right on the auto bailout is dominating the closing days of the election campaign in the state that is likely to decide the outcome of the election, and the issue centers on Toledo, where Fiat-owned Chrysler LLC makes Jeeps.

Chris Maloney, a spokesman for Mr. Romney, said the Romney ad is factual.

"Governor Romney has routinely made the point that we should be bolstering American exports and American manufacturing here at home as opposed to bolstering our American competitors," Mr. Maloney said. "There's no reason why we shoudn't be building those Jeeps and exporting them from the United States."

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.