October 31st, 2012
02:13 PM ET
2 years ago

Battleground Blog: Ohio's senators weigh in on Romney Jeep ad controversy

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN has sent dozens of reporters, producers, contributors and correspondents to the key battleground states to cover the final days of the 2012 election. Here CNN Contributor John Avlon offers his take on a controversy surrounding some claims Mitt Romney has made about the auto industry.

(CNN) - Here in Ohio and other Rust Belt battleground states where this election will be decided – the auto bailouts are a personal, political and pocket-book issue.

The latest campaign skirmish over the auto industry concerns comments Mitt Romney made on the stump about Chrysler allegedly moving Jeep manufacturing overseas to China. This drew immediate outcry from the company and provided a field day for Fact-Checkers who pronounced the statement a "Pants-on-Fire."

But the Romney campaign doubled down with a television and radio ad, reasserting their claims. The radio ad aired initially in Toledo, and here's what it said:

"Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry, but for whom? Ohio or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they're planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China and now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeep soon. You guessed it, China. What happened to the promises made to auto workers in Toledo and throughout Ohio; the same hardworking men and women who were told Obama's auto bailout would help them?..."

Tough stuff – and the focus on China was no accident. Outsourcing to China is a major issue for auto-workers here.

On the CNN battleground bus tour, I spoke with both Ohio senators – Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown – on the subject.

Senator Portman was speaking at a Stark County campaign headquarters Get-Out-The-Vote Rally. He defended the ad, saying "I don't think it is inaccurate. I mean, it was a story in Bloomberg that said that Fiat has made a decision to start building jeeps in China, and that's all the ad says."

For emphasis, Portman had his communications director email me the Bloomberg article he cited.

But speaking to CNN at a union hall rally in Canton, Ohio, Senator Brown had a very different take on the ad's accuracy and motivation. "I'd say it's the most disingenuous ad I've ever seen. They know better," said Senator Brown, who is in a tough re-election race right now. "They know that the auto rescue worked. They understand that 800,000 Ohioans are connected directly or indirectly to the auto rescue, and they know that Governor Romney and my opponent's opposition to the auto rescue forced them at the polls. So they're trying to cloud the issue, and it's pretty outrageous."

President Clinton and Vice-President Biden also took time in their Youngstown, Ohio event to slam the Romney ad on Jeep as "the biggest load of bull in the world."

In the final week of the election, both sides will try to spin the issue to their advantage. But the truth matters and in the search for a tie-breaker opinion, I think it's useful to listen to the business itself.

GM spokesman Greg Martin told the Detroit Free Press that the Romney ad was "campaign politics at its cynical worst" – adding "We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days."

It's rare that you hear a company spokesman weigh into partisan fights with such harsh language – but it offers the kind of clarity that's needed in the spin-saturated skirmishes of these high-stakes last few days of Election 2012.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Ohio
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. UBS, WILLARD & 4000+ AMERICAN AMNESTY DEAL

    "I don't think it is inaccurate. I mean, it was a story in Bloomberg that said that Fiat has made a decision to start building jeeps in China, and that's all the ad says."
    -------------------------------------------–
    Chrysler and GM are saying that your ads are misleading. I'll take their word over some newspaper's. Pretty much, they're saying you're LYING!!!

    October 31, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. g

    he ,s scarier then bush

    October 31, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Hillcrester

    No wonder Obama has a 66.0% chance of re-election, according to Intrade, where folks vote with real money.

    October 31, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. jkane sfl a vote for lady parts romney the tax cheat and lyin lady parts ryan willcut your moms medicare and soc sec . .can you afford to pay for them???

    Everyone knows romney the lieing tax cheat will say and do anything to win, that's why he is going to lose in the gop train wreck that he caused in 6days . Then do the country a favor and leave to a country that likes incompetent tax cheat liers ,maybe somila where you share the same values . None!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. jon

    The funny thing is that neither the GM of Jeep or the Democrat senator denied that the bloomburg article said that Jeep was moving jobs to China ... Who is spinning now ... All they had to do is deny that the article existed, and if it did exist, then fire the person that said the jobs were moving to China ... But they didn't – they even refused to deny that the article existed.

    October 31, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    And still the GOP crowd will vote for their well-oiled weather vane candidate and against their own interests.

    October 31, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. scmom

    Why not! Keep lying they haven't called mitt on all the other lies so why not. This election is beyond Unbelievable.

    October 31, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. jamie

    Romney is a phoney

    He told us in his 47% video that he'd "take advantage" of a tragedy. He meant it. Thus the "relief stunt" photo-ops staged by R+R in Ohio and Wisconsin this week while the rest of us (in actual disaster areas!) wait for real help from those who actually care and know what to do.

    October 31, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. sonny chapman

    If Portman doesn't recognize a LIE when he hears one, then he's lost his soul.

    October 31, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  10. Phil

    Funny part is, during the tag team of Biden & clinton commenting on the Romney Jeep comment. Clinton even said they were moving jobs to China but credited to how well they were doing and they could afford to.

    October 31, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. McShannon

    Thank you Chrysler management! Thank you GM management! This is the most outrageous, lack of integrity, desperate attempt to distort the truth probably ever in any Presidential campaign. The Romney camp “has no shame” and is flailing with wild jabs unbecoming of honorable men.

    October 31, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Kbrdio

    Building Jeeps in China for next to nothing will absolutely lead to importing them from China. Not this week, but it's coming. It's Ross Perot's giant sucking sound all over again. You may agree or disagree on other issues, but there's no question Romney's right on this one.

    October 31, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    In the final week of the election, both sides will try to spin the issue to their advantage. But the truth matters and in the search for a tie-breaker opinion, I think it's useful to listen to the business itself.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    The ad is exactly correct and Obama knows it. He just doesn't like what it says. The truth is difficult when he is trying to get reelected.

    October 31, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm still scratching my head try to figure out why Romney would tell this lie, he couldn't have possibly thought this would win him votes in Ohio. Just concede Romney, you're toast in Ohio.

    October 31, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Mike

    Mitt must think we the voters in Ohio are stupid to buy his lies!

    October 31, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Democrat now Ind.

    And the Obama administration stopped Ford from running ads about them being the only one that didn't receive bailout money.

    October 31, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. Derek

    So...Dem Senator says ad is disingenuous, GOP Senator says it wasn't inaccurate. So, their words mean less than dog snot. Top notch reporting, as always, CNN.

    October 31, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. wkndthg

    NOW the truth matters? Where were all these people when this clown first opened his pie hole? The POTUS stealing from medicare, the POTUS removing work from welfare, my money is in a trust fund that I don't control..., there isn't enough space here to list them all.

    October 31, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. kevin

    This is a very damning article about GOP honesty.

    Show that ad to a 100 people, and they'll come out with the idea that jobs are moving from America to China.

    It's a lie and Americans won't fall for it.

    October 31, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Tim

    Really? Did we really need a GM executive to jump in to tell us what we already know? Romney is the biggest liar we've ever seen in American Politics. And to think we have a great number of citizens voting for this clown.

    That in itself tells us why policians lie....they know there are a lot of stupid people out there that will believe just about any thing. Romney base, the Republican party, they don't care what type of lies he's selling..... they'll vote for the Devil if he ran as a Republican. All Mitt "Joe Isuzu" Romney needs to do is sway enough stupid people outside the Republican party to believe his lies so he can steal an election....absolutely pathetic.

    October 31, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Larry Linn

    Why should Romney be upset about outsourcing American jobs to China? That is how he made his money.

    October 31, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Facts don't Lie

    the Romney campaign has done something I have NEVER seen done in an election....they have no problem telling untruths or half truths on their opponent then when called out on it they DOUBLE down on their claims even when proven to be false. Yet for some reason people seem to buy it unless the polling numbers are way far off. IF Romney does win next week I am sure that more candidates will start the same thing in future elections. If he loses however then his first interview after the loss he may be really called out on this tactic.

    October 31, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. TNT

    That's Romney again Lying again. Hope people will realize what a liar he really is and Vote for Obama. Makes me sick.
    this guy is desperate to win.

    October 31, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. friedporkchop

    ok so the head of GM who received a massive bailout is going to admit to this publicly? it's ok...not to worry at current pace the taxpayers have only lost 15 billion on the gm bailout. Chicken scratch.lol

    October 31, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Name

    Mitt is just avoiding the inevitable.. his campaign has been the absolute worst in American history

    October 31, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
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