The Washington Post

Romney expands false Jeep-to-China ad campaign

Mitt Romney’s new television ad suggesting that the auto bailout will result in American jeep jobs getting shipped to China has been widely pilloried by news organizations, both nationally and in Ohio. The Romney campaign’s response: It is expanding the ad campaign.

A Dem source familiar with ad buy info tells me that the Romney campaign has now put a version of the spot on the radio in Toledo, Ohio — the site of a Jeep plant. The buy is roughly $100,000, the source says.

The move seems to confirm that the Romney campaign is making the Jeep-to-China falsehood central to its final push to turn things around in the state. The Romney campaign has explicitly said in the past that it will not let fact checking constrain its messaging, so perhaps it’s not surprising that it appears to be expanding an ad campaign based on a claim that has been widely pilloried by fact checkers.

The move represents a gamble on Romney’s part. The audacity of this falsehood makes it easier for the Obama camp to raise doubts about Romney’s character, integrity, and honesty — and to make the case that Romney not only failed to support the bailout when Ohio needed it; he’s now lying extensively to cover it up. Yesterday in Ohio, Joe Biden slammed the Romney camp by saying: “Have they no shame?”

As Steve Benen put it, this episode demonstrates more clearly than any other yet that Romney “believes we’ve entered a post-truth era and the disincentive has disappeared — he can repeat falsehoods with impunity without fear of consequences.”

This falsehood is particularly pernicious — it plays on people’s fears for their livelihoods. As I noted earlier today, the president of a United Auto Workers local that oversees workers at the Jeep plant says that after Romney first claimed Jeep was moving production to China, the union received a bunch of calls from workers worried about their jobs.

Ultimately, this may be Romney’s only recourse. It’s the only response Romney has left to the fact that he got it wrong on a policy that helped save an industry linked to one in eight Ohio jobs, and Obama got it right. And who knows — it just might work for him.

I’ll bring you audio of the ad when I get it.


UPDATE: Politifact weighs in: “Pants on fire.”

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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