As Mitt Romney continues to struggle to explain his various positions on the auto rescue that saved General Motors and Chrysler, his presidential campaign has released an ad about the bailout that is littered with falsehoods and misdirections.
The 30-second ad is running in Ohio, a state where Romney is trailing in the polls and has been battered by the Obama campaign for his opposition to the auto rescue. Here is a breakdown of the ad’s misleading, and sometimes false, claims:
1. “Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry.” No specific plan is referenced in the ad, and Romney’s campaign web site does not include a plan to “help the auto industry.” In 2008, Romney wrote a New York Times editorial titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” and he re-upped his call against the auto rescue during the Republican primaries this year.
2. “[Romney] is supported by Lee Iaccoca and the Detroit News.” Chrysler Chairman Lee Iaccoca has indeed endorsed Romney. The Detroit News, a self-described “conservative newspaper,” endorsed him last week. But in that endorsement, the paper slammed Romney’s “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout.”
3. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.” Obama did take both companies into a managed bankruptcy, the path Romney says was originally his idea. Romney, however, supported private sector financing of the bankruptcy, a plan that was “pure fantasy” at the time since no private lenders could lend to the companies in the middle of the financial crisis. Without federal intervention, the companies would have almost assuredly collapsed, costing 1.3 million jobs, according to industry estimates.
4. “[Obama] sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.” This week, Romney claimed he read a news story that said Chrysler was planning to “moving all production to China.” The Bloomberg News piece he referenced, though, made it clear that Fiat, the Italian company that now owns Chrysler, was opening new factories in China to make Jeeps for Chinese consumers. No American plants will be closed, and no American jobs will be lost. The ad’s claim may not be as false as Romney’s previous statement, but it is certainly misleading.
The Romney campaign is now defending the ad, with an unnamed aide telling BuzzFeed that it is literally true:
“What’s in there that’s false? Are they building Jeeps in China or not?” an aide asked BuzzFeed, breaking the campaign’s silence on the ad. “I think a lot of Ohioans are wondering why we can’t make Jeeps here and ship them to China, just like they are wondering why we can’t make — insert product here — in this country and export them to China.”
That, of course, doesn’t explain away Romney’s clear misstatement that Chrysler planned to move “all production to China,” which the Romney campaign has thus far refused to address. Nor does it address the ad’s clear implication that American jobs would be lost if Chrysler decides to open production lines in China.