President Barack Obama's campaign went apoplectic Monday over a commercial by Mitt Romney's campaign that alleges Chrysler, despite Obama's bailout, was sold to the Italian company Fiat that intends to build Jeeps in China.
Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said "everyone" just had to know the ad is false. And the campaign ran a commercial of its own trying to tear down Romney's commercial. Except Romney's commercial is correct.
The New York Times reported Romney's commercial says, “Who will do more for the auto industry? Not Barack Obama.” The commercial continues: “Fact checkers confirm his attacks on Mitt Romney are false. Obama took G.M. 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.”
Obama did bail out Chrysler, as the ad says. And as early as 2010, Fiat has been intending to build Jeeps in China, as a ChinaAutoWeb report from 2010 indicated:
BAIC-Jeep later evolved into the now-defunct Beijing Benz-Daimler Chrysler company. Ever since the Daimler-Chrysler alliance broke down in 2009, Chrysler has no productions in China. Now that Fiat, Chrysler’s new owner, has officially returned to China and began building factories, there will be Chinese-made Jeep SUVs again in as early as 2014.
In a recent interview, John Kett, vice president and CEO of Chrysler’s Asia-Pacific operations, confirmed this, echoing Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s words that Fiat is to have a production capacity of 300,00 units a year in China within five years through its joint venture with GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.). And Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, will be the location of the production base.
Fiat may be the only major automakers that suffered heavy losses in China in recent years. After losing tens of millions US dollars, it stopped partnership with Nanjing Auto, now part of SAIC. It temed up with GAC in late 2009 to give the Chinese market one more try.
And just this weekend, Fiat's CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted the company had intentions of building jeeps in Europe as well. According to a Bloomberg News report:
To counter the severe slump in European sales, Marchionne is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America. The Italian government is evaluating tax rebates on export goods to help Fiat. Marchionne may announce details of his plan as soon as Oct. 30, the people said.
Even the liberal Mother Jones magazine admitted that "technically, every word" of Romney's ad was true.
But as Twitchy noted, this false controversy may have started because Romney, in a stump speech last week, said, "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 slightly misspoke on the stump (like Obama has done numerously when he has mistakenly slipped and said he wanted to outsource American jobs or build wind turbines in China). Jeep is not thinking about moving "all" of its production to China. They are thinking of moving some of its production to China, which is what Romney's commercial correctly claimed.
What the Obama campaign and is trying to do is use Romney's technically mispoken words on the stump to delegitimize a commercial that even progressive authors like Kevin Dunn at Mother Jones have conceded is true.