Romney staffer ducks question on Jeep ad

A top staffer for Mitt Romney's campaign avoided commenting Sunday on a controversial ad campaign that suggests Chrysler is moving U.S. jobs to China. 

Asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace if the misleading ad was a "mistake," Romney political director Rich Beeson quickly changed the subject.

"Well, I found it interesting that President Obama would attack Mitt Romney on that when they put up an ad saying that Gov. Romney says 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' when  that's a headline from the New York Times op-ed," Beeson responded. "And the second thing is President Obama talking about scaring people when yesterday he's out there saying 'voting is the best revenge.'" 

Romney did not use the phrase "Let Detroit go bankrupt" in his 2008 New York Times op-ed on the auto bailout. However, he later defended the headline on television. The Republican was calling for a managed bankruptcy. not liquidation. 

In Romney's ad, the narrator says, "Obama took GM 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." But Chrysler is considering expanding its Chinese operations for the Chinese market, not eliminating American jobs.

Asked about the same ad on NBC's "Meet the Press." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he couldn't comment because he hadn't seen it. "I've not seen the ad," he said. "They're apparently not running it in Virginia."

But Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) defended the Jeep ad on CNN, in an interview with Candy Crowley.

"Jeep has said they’re going to reopen a facility that was closed after DaimlerChrysler broke apart years ago, and it’ll be in China to produce for the Chinese market," Portman said. "That’s all the ad says. There’s nothing inaccurate about it."

When Crowley noted that Chrysler took issue with the implication that jobs are being exported, Portman responded that critics were reading something into the spot that wasn't there: "Well there's, you know, that the suggestion that you might want to make but, you know, that's not what the ad says."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · November 4, 2012