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. Sorensen

    Romney is so full of crap. Totally disgusting. Only idiots believe anything he says.

    October 31, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. gt

    time for change...obama could not get the economy going when he had the house and senate....new ideas .. ...4 more yrs will just make it worse...

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. Middle Class Independent Swing State Voter

    This man lies without even thinking twice. What religion excepts this? I'm so ready for this election to be over so we can move forward with our current President. At least, we know what we're getting with him even if you don't agree w/ his policies. Mitt Romney is scary

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. B.

    Romney is using outrageous lies now in ads about the auto industry !

    The man will do and say Anything to further his ambitions.

    Romney is a chronic liar and not to be trusted in anything that he says..

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. D. Tree

    The US Auto industry is *expanding* into China – the world's fastest growing new market for US Cars.

    It's good for the USA, and it's good for our workers.

    It's a very different thing from what Mitt Romney did at Bain Capital: closing US factories and moving their operations overseas.

    Mitt Romney outsourced American manufacturing. The President rescued it.

    And Republicans want you to think the rescue was a bad thing.

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  6. St. James Place

    Willard you still have time post those tax returns the people.the people want to know if you evaded taxes by sending your money to the Cayman Islands.

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Syd

    Sen. Portman: HOW IS IT NOT INACCURATE???? Romney said something which turned out to be a lie (go figure), the company came out and said it wasn't true and has refuted Romney's statement. Yet you want us to believe that it is true and you want me to trust Romney/Ryan. Give me a break.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 31, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. hyper

    I wonder if Romney, if he wasn't a candidate for the presidency would have stood out in the cold handing canned foot out to people? And then at least pick a state that was hit hard by the storm like New Jersey. Ohio, the place he decided to "help out people" was hit but only by the outskirts of the storm.

    If Romney was really serious about this he'd he'd use those millions of dollars he has lying around gathering dust in his Swiss bank accounts and spend it on the relief effort. Like I don't know, Helicopter in fuel and emergency generators or something useful. Instead of just looking pretty.

    October 31, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. Ind.

    Obama outscourced jobs with tax players money to Brazil and off shore dilling.

    Dems must be so very proud of that one.

    October 31, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. MBW

    Thank goodness for Obamacare. The governor has contracted another illness besides Romnesia. He has contracted a serious case of prevarication from his running mate "lying-Ryan". His "loser fever" has gotten so intense that
    he is talking out of his mind. The only cure for his delerium is a long rest, maybe four years would do. He needs to start now. Come back in four years when all symptoms of Romnesia and prevarication have cleared up.

    October 31, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. rs

    This particular lie on the part of Romney is very revealing- whether he misinterpreted the aricle or Bloomberg got it wrong doesn't matter. Both the Chairman of Chrysler and Fiat have called him on it as incorrect. He is getting "pants on Fire" and "Pinocchio" ratings right and left, and he keeps on stating the same thing oer and over- and even has ads out stating not only the Jeep lie, but worse that somehow Obama singlr-handedly sold off Chrysler to Fiat.

    Lies upon lies!

    How can we as a nation elect a man like Romney so totally lacking in fundamental morality?

    October 31, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Andy in Minneapolis

    @ 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.
    -----------–

    Having read the entire article myself I can tell you that the article in Bloomberg does state that Fiat wants to begin production in China, but it's for Chinese sales. It will have no impact on US sales or manufacturing jobs. What Romney said is a lie. He said that Jeep will be moving ALL production to China. These two scenarios are VERY different.

    October 31, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @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.

    **********************************************************************************************************************************

    I see you live in Mitt's parallel universe too. GM disavowed the ad as has Chrysler. Get help soon.

    October 31, 2012 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. 9hydra

    "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."

    It wouldn't be so needed if CNN did their jobs and called out false ads as the lies they are. Reporters shouldn't be collecting paychecks when they do any actual journalism.

    October 31, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Len

    Romney has told so many untruths in the last year and half, it is not funny. It is hypocritial. But he has a chance to win because he is White. That is he bottom line folks....If President Obama was a white democrat this contest would not be close. Ever since he became President, unfortunately, we heard form the GOP and pundits "Take our country back"....The racist of this country have shown their ugly heads......Please wake up!

    October 31, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Keller

    Wow, good job wkndthg, you can repeat all the things that you hear so well. Have you done any research? Obama's "cut" to medicare was actually a savings by not over paying doctors and is helping medicare stay solvent well into the 2020's (as opposed to Ryan plan which would see medicare go bankrupt by 2017 or so), the removing work from welfare is false, while there are some waivers to the current welfare rules the states are actually being forced to make bigger strides in finding work for welfare recipients, Romney used the same trust fund excuse for his investments....lets keep going this is fun....

    October 31, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. plain&simple

    You can't have a war of words with a liar....time washes away the lies and leaves the truth. Look at Romney's words and then take time to see how that is working out.

    October 31, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. Bruce

    I'm sure we haven't seen the worst from this guy...

    October 31, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Tony in Maine

    Were it not for lies, Romney would have nothing to say.

    October 31, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. rs

    jon-

    The point is, the Blomberg article is wrong, and both Chrysler and Fiat corrected and clarified what they published in press releases. The truth is more nuanced: Chrysler is going to add more than 3,000 jobs in three states based upon the slaes of Jeeps, AND they are going to re-open Chrysler's China factory to build Jeeps there for the Asian market. Get it? No american jobs, much less ALL Jeep production are moving to China. Bloomberg blew it, and Romney was too lazy (or immoral) to check his own data, and now won't stop repeating it which basically makes him look like a lyin' fool.

    October 31, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Tabeth

    Republican party is of born again Christian.

    Thou shalt not lie to they neibhbor neither give false testimony.
    When Hillary was loosing, she called for the assassination of BO, but Romney is resorting to lying,
    Future President of the USA....NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  22. Laverne

    His campaign will not be dictated by fact checkers and damnit he meant it! The bigger issue here is Mitt Romney has a character and integrity issue!

    October 31, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Keller

    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

    The money that we have not recovered from the auto bail out is due to the fact that the Federal Government still owns large shares of GM.

    October 31, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Jess

    God bless Obama

    October 31, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Tabeth

    Ohio should punish heavily Mitt on the 6th of November

    October 31, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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