COLUMBUS — Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters the campaign will soon have an ad on the air in Ohio responding to a new controversial spot by Mitt Romney that highlights Chrysler contemplating building Jeeps in China.
(Update: The response ad is now live.)
The Romney ad has been widely criticized for leaving the impression that Chrysler is moving jobs from its Toledo, Ohio Jeep plant overseas. In fact, Chrysler has indicated it is considering opening a new Chinese plant to build trucks for the Chinese market but has no plans to move Ohio jobs to China.
The ad appeared to be an effort to blunt Obama’s advantage on the auto bailout issue in Ohio, where 1 in 8 jobs is connected with the car industry.
But the Obama campaign has sensed an opening in the blowback to the ad, a chance to argue that Romney is willing to stretch the truth to win votes.
In an especially tough campaign conference call Monday, 14-year Jeep worker James Fayson said he was offended that Romney had implied his job could be shipped overseas.
“The fact that you would fabricate a story about our jobs moving to China makes you the worst kind of politician,” he said of Romney.
Ken Lortz, director of the UAW for Ohio and Indiana, called the ad the “lowest form of political tactic.”
He said Romney had only “angered Ohioans who know better.”
“We knew he wasn’t on our side when the economy and the industry was on the brink, but the fact that he would lie to our faces and try to deceive us is just too much,” he said.
The Romney campaign has not indicated where their ad will run, but viewers spotted it on television in the Toledo market on Sunday, and a Romney spokesman confirmed the ad has not been taken off the air. The ad was carefully worded — it said that Obama “took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.”
That phrasing is technically accurate, since the company is looking at adding new Jeep production in China. But it comes after Romney told a crowd in Defiance, Ohio last week that “one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.”
The company has said that is not true.
In response to criticism of the ad, a Romney spokesman released clips confirming that Chrysler has indicated it is considering building Jeeps in China and that Obama did, indeed, as part of the bailout, require GM and Chrysler to go through bankruptcy.