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Posted at 09:05 AM ET, 10/30/2012

The Morning Plum: Romney’s Jeep-to-China lie earns brutal headlines in Ohio

As David Plouffe wrote in his memoir of Campaign 2008, the Obama team has long thought that one of the most effective ways to influence independents and undecided voters is via local media in key battleground states. So it’s worth taking a look at how the battle over Mitt Romney’s latest falsehood — that the auto bailout will result in American Jeep jobs getting shipped to China — is playing in the Ohio media, since this claim represents Romney’s last chance to turn things around in the state.

Here’s the headline in today’s Toledo Blade:

Clinton, Biden call Jeep ad deceptive

Another in the Toledo Blade:

Obama campaign accuses Romney of dishonesty on Jeep issue

The Blade has been covering this story pretty aggressively, noting that Romney — who now claims Obama followed his approach on the auto-bailout — previously derided the rescue effort as “crony capitalism.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, meanwhile, published a scorching editorial with this headline:

Flailing in Ohio, Romney rolls out Jeep ploy

The editorial flatly noted that Romney is now trying to sow “confusion” among Ohioans, to obscure his opposition to a policy that has helped save an industry linked to one in eight Ohio jobs. “It won’t work,” it concluded. “Ohio voters know who stepped up when the auto industry was at the abyss — and it wasn’t Romney.”

And the Columbus Dispatch has been running with headlines like: “Jeep/Romney question lingers.” The Dispatch extensively fact-checked Romney’s claims about the auto-bailout, clearly demonstrating that he did in fact oppose the rescue of the industry Obama ended up pursuing.

This is hardly a comprehensive look at the local coverage, but it does suggest the possibility that Romney’s Jeep-to-China gamble may be backfiring. Polls have shown that large numbers of Ohioans don’t think Romney cares about their needs and problems. And the Obama campaign views the auto bailout, and Romney’s dishonesty about it, as central to their closing case against Romney’s character, integrity, and true priorities. So these are exactly the headlines the Obama team wants.

* Romney’s Jeep-to-China lie scared workers: Check out this nugget in the New York Times overview of the escalating battle over Romney’s falsehood:

Bruce Baumhower, the president of the United Auto Workers local that oversees the major Jeep plant here, said Mr. Romney’s initial comments on moving production to China drew a rash of calls from members concerned about their jobs. When he informed them Chrysler was, in fact, is expanding its Jeep operation here, he said in an interview, “The response has been, ‘That’s pretty pitiful.’ ”

Amazing. It isn’t just that Romney is willing to lie brazenly to the people whose votes he wants; he’s also willing to play directly on their fears for their livelihoods.

* Romney’s auto-bailout ad takes a beating: Glenn Kessler thoroughly dismantles Romney’s new ad claiming the auto-bailout will result in American Jeep jobs getting shipped to China. A Romney spokesperson defended the assertion this way:

“The larger point that the governor made is that rather than creating jobs here, the foreign owner, handpicked by President Obama, is planning to add jobs overseas.”

Just wow. As Kessler notes, production is being planned in China to serve the Chinese market. And not only that, Chrysler is in fact adding Jeep production in the U.S.

* Yes, Florida is still very close: Nate Cohn takes a look at another basic fact that has gone overlooked amid the obsessing over Ohio: Florida remains very close, and Obama could still very well win there, thanks partly to the state’s growing black and non-Cuban Hispanic populations. Voter registration numbers show large jumps among them.

A new CNN poll finds Romney only leading Obama by 50-49 among likely Florida voters. And the polling averages suggest the race remains tighter in Florida (and, by the way, in Virginia) than it does in Ohio. Romney probably needs all three to win.

* Another national poll finds a dead heat: A new NPR poll finds Romney leading Obama nationally among likely voters by one point, 48-47. That’s consistent with averages showing the race within a point.

In the NPR poll. Obama holds a four point lead among the sub-sample of voters from 12 key swing states, 50-46. Exercise caution about swing-state sub-samples; state polling averages are far better. But in these, too, Obama holds a small but meaningful edge in the electoral college.

* Romney holds turnout edge: Steven Shepard digs into the new Pew poll and finds pretty clear evidence that Romney voters are more enthusiastic about the election and more likely to vote. It’s a reminder of how much pressure there is on Obama’s massive grassroots turnout operation — which the Obama team has literally spent years building for this one moment — to match or exceed expectations.

* Romney on disaster response: The Times editorial board makes it plain: Yes, Romney did say he favors transferring disaster response to the states, and even suggested privatizing it.

The Times notes the longtime GOP resistance to federal emergency planning, and adds: “ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.”

* And Chris Christie praises Obama response to Sandy: Nice catch by Steve Benen: Chris Christie’s praise for Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy was surprisingly effusive this morning. It’s unlikely that the storm will have much of an impact on the election. But as Jonathan Bernstein notes, it’s not impossible that if the federal response and Obama looks particularly good (or bad), it could impact remaining undecided voters on the margins.

What else?

By  |  09:05 AM ET, 10/30/2012

 
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