Misleading Romney Auto Ad Backfires With Media

Mitt Romney’s final attempt to swing Ohio polls in his direction is a bit too much for a number of political reporters, and is now facing an aggressive response from the Obama campaign.

In news articles, tweets, and other media, members of the national press, usually reluctant to criticize campaigns directly, have taken Romney to task for running a misleading TV ad creating the false impression that Jeep will ship jobs to China because of President Obama’s auto rescue.

“Mitt Romney’s campaign has released an ad in Ohio that says he — and not President Barack Obama — will do more to help the auto industry, even though Obama’s administration is widely credited with helping to turn around General Motors and Chrysler when they faced collapse,” writes the Detroit Free Press in an article titled ‘Romney takes heat for new ad on jobs, auto rescue’. “In the ad, the Romney campaign also says that Jeep, now owned by Italian automaker Fiat after going through a structured bankruptcy in 2009, is going to make cars in China. While true, that production would represent an expansion or return of jobs to China for Chrysler, not a transfer of North American jobs. It also is a move that analysts say could improve the brand’s global standing.”

“Romney Ad Wrongly Implies Chrysler Is Sending U.S. Jobs To China,” reads a National Journal headline.

The sense that the Romney ad breached already lax standards for honesty in campaign ads was particularly evident on Twitter Sunday afternoon and evening, when many reporters first took note of it, after it began airing in Ohio without public notice.

National Journal’s Ron Fournier said there was no sound defense for the Romney ad.

Politico’s Ben White tweeted “Wait, not only did Romney camp not back off the erroneous Jeep to China canard, they made an ad out of it? My god”

Chrysler, the company that manufactures Jeep, felt the need to respond publicly that, no, Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its models out of North America to China.

“There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach,” Jeep wrote on its official blog.

The Obama campaign has dispatched former auto adviser Steve Rattner to debunk the ad, both in Ohio and nationally. A campaign official tells TPM that Rattner will host a conference call to address the Romney ad with reporters on Monday.

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