Two US automakers rebut claims by Romney

2012-11-01 07:20:51 GMT2012-11-01 15:20:51(Beijing Time)

Mitt Romney’s latest advertising campaign suggesting that the auto bailout recipients Chrysler and General Motors were shifting jobs to China drew him into a public argument with top executives at both companies, who condemned the advertisements as false on Tuesday.

“The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst,” Greg Martin, a spokesman for General Motors, said in an interview late Tuesday. “We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.”

General Motors was pulled into the fray on Tuesday after Mr. Romney began running a new radio advertisement in which an announcer says, “Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry, but for who, Ohio or China?”

It went on to say that General Motors and Chrysler were planning to increase the number of cars they manufacture in China: “What happened to the promises made to autoworkers in Toledo and throughout Ohio?”

It was a variation on a television ad running here that reports that Chrysler, which produces Jeeps here, is planning to “return Jeep output to China.”

The spot has been widely criticized for leaving the misleading impression that Chrysler is planning to shift jobs here in Toledo to China. In fact, Chrysler says that it is discussing new plants for sales in China that do not affect American hiring, and that it is adding workers in Toledo. The spot earned a “Pants on Fire” designation from the fact-checking site Politifact.

In an e-mail to employees on Tuesday, Chrysler’s executive, Sergio Marchionne, said that Jeep’s commitment to the United States was unequivocal. “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” he wrote. “It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”

Mr. Marchionne’s response came as the auto bailout took center stage in the fight for Ohio’s 18 electoral votes.

The politics of the auto bailout have become a vexing problem for Mr. Romney. He opposed Mr. Obama’s approach to what was an $80 billion bailout, and some supporters in the Midwest have questioned his stance that Chrysler and General Motors should have gone through bankruptcies without federal bailout funds. They argued that such financing was not available at what was the height of the financial crisis.

As his campaign increases its focus on winning in this critical state — where polls have continually given a slight edge to Mr. Obama — it has sought to undermine the support the bailout is giving Mr. Obama here.

It was unclear whether Mr. Romney’s new strategy is advantageous, given the reaction.

The Romney campaign has insisted that its ad merely states the truth: Jeeps are not currently made in China and soon will be, creating jobs there instead of at home. “It would be better if they expanded production in the U.S. instead of expanding in China,” said Stuart Stevens, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney.

Mr. Martin said that General Motors had invested $7.3 billion in United States production since 2009 and “brought nearly 19,000 back to work.”

Mr. Stevens said that he agreed with Mr. Martin’s statement that General Motors’ recovery should be a source of bipartisan pride, but that Mr. Romney’s proposed policies would make it easier for companies like G.M. to produce cars for export.


Editor: Yu Runze
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