A Chrysler ad aired during the Super Bowl Sunday night has inspired ire among some Republicans and admiration among some Democrats — with both sides seeing a political message that boosts President Obama.
In an ad touting the resurgence of the American auto industry, Clint Eastwood declared that it’s “halftime in America and our second half’s about to begin,” which could be interpreted as a reference to Obama’s second term.
The ad’s themes seem to echo Obama’s own argument that his administration brought the auto industry back from the brink of disaster.
“They almost lost everything,” Eastwood says of Detroit. “But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again.”
“I was, frankly, offended by it,” said Karl Rove on Fox News Monday. “I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising.”
(Most — but not all, if you include the loan made under the Bush Administration — of the money loaned to Chrysler has been paid back.)
“Agh. WTH?” tweeted conservative commentator Michelle Malkin. “Did I just see Clint Eastwood fronting an auto bailout ad???”
Scenes from union protests in Wisconsin were used in the ad, but the messages on the signs were blurred out, perhaps to avoid the very politicization some Republicans see.
Eastwood’s own politics are ambiguous. He was the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel, Calif., for two years. George H.W. Bush considered asking Eastwood to be his running mate in 1988. While he has supported some Democrats in California; Eastwood said in 2011 that he couldn’t recall ever voting for a Democratic presidential candidate. In 2008, he supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
About the same time, he told GQ that he no longer identified with the GOP: “[O]ver the years, I realized there was a Republican philosophy that I liked. And then they lost it. And libertarians had more of it.”
He went on to explain that he’s liberal on social views but economically conservative. In fact, Eastwood opposed the auto bailout.
“We shouldn’t be bailing out the banks and car companies,” he told the L.A. Times last year. “If a CEO can’t figure out how to make his company profitable, then he shouldn’t be the CEO.”
Eastwood helped write the ad, his manager Leonard Hirshan told New York magazine, adding, “It's not a political thing.”
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