Mitt Romney vs. Chrysler: Is he lying about Jeep shipping jobs to China?

The GOP candidate is out with a new ad in Ohio that many are describing as wildly misleading

In 2008, then-presidential hopeful Mitt Romney checked out the Chrysler Eco-Voyager car
(Image credit: Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images)

In recent weeks, Mitt Romney has climbed in the national polls, emerging as a narrow frontrunner in most surveys. However, the GOP challenger faces a stubborn roadblock on his electoral path to the presidency: Ohio, which continues to show Obama with a solid and seemingly durable lead. The chances of Romney winning 270 electoral votes without Ohio are slim, and the Buckeye State appears to be rewarding Obama for his decision to provide government aid to General Motors and Chrysler, a move that saved 1 in 8 Ohio jobs. Seeking to chip away at Obama's Ohio firewall, the Romney campaign is up with a new ad suggesting that the bailout resulted in Chrysler's owner, the Italian car maker Fiat, shipping jobs to China to make Chrysler's fleet of Jeeps. (Watch the ad below.) The suggestion is completely misleading, says Sam Stein at The Huffington Post:

The ad accuses Obama of selling "Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China." Again, this is technically true, but only according to a narrow reading of the language. Fiat, the Italian company that now owns Chrysler, is building Jeeps in China. But the company is not moving jobs from America to do it. Instead, Fiat is expanding current production in China for the purposes of catering to a growing Chinese market.

Where the ad goes from misleading to something more nefarious is in the text it shows. At one point, it displays a line from a Bloomberg story stating that Chrysler "plans to return Jeep output to China," the implication being that the company is moving operations there as opposed to expanding operations that are already there. Romney has cited this report on several occasions while campaigning and has been summarily criticized for doing so. Chrysler has denied the report, and multiple news outlets have called out the Romney campaign for using it in on the stump.

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The misleading attack is nothing new for Romney, who has tried to change his position on the auto bailouts, says Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic:

Of course, this kind of deception is emblematic of the campaign Romney and his supporters have waged in the last few days. They insist that Romney never thought government should let Chrysler and GM collapse. But Romney's vague and inconsistent rhetoric included statements that he would have opted for a "private sector bailout" — something that was not possible in 2009, because private investors were in no position to make the necessary loans.

But let's not forget that the Obama campaign has played fast and loose with the truth when it comes to outsourcing, says Patrick Brennan at The National Review:

[Romney's ad is] remarkably similar to claims that the Obama campaign and the Washington Post promoted this summer when they asserted that Mitt Romney was an "outsourcing pioneer" at Bain, would make an "outsourcer in chief," etc. In every case, the companies involved had opened new overseas operations rather than shifted work from the U.S., usually while also expanding here in the U.S., performing different functions, and often to serve local, foreign markets.

Watch Romney's ad:

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