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. Ohio Patriot

    We are in big time trouble if this well-oiled weather vane gets elected (which i don't think will happen). The vacuum that wll be created by his and Ryan's lack of foreign policy knowledge and ability will be filled with a bunch of neo-con war mongers. He claims that he will create (his own words) 12 million jobs but while also stating that Government doesn't create jobs! Which is it Mitt??

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

    Romney does nothing but lie. He will do anything to get votes. I believe in President Obama and will vote for him again!

    October 31, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. I Voted Early In NC

    Romney has no shame, no respect and no dignity. Good grief Romney lose with some dignity and self respect. You are going in the history books as the biggest dishonest liar as a Presidential Candidate and that says something about the other liars in the past. You also should be removed from the Mormon religion.

    October 31, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Tim

    jon wrote:

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------
    @Jon... Are you that much of a die hard Republican or just stupid? Or are you both?

    I think they've already said his statements and ads are false. Chrysler said they were actually adding 1k more jobs here in the U.S. They are not moving plants to China as Joe Isuzu stated. Selling cars to China is totally different than moving auto plants to China. Moving plants to China would mean you're shutting down U.S. auto plants and laying people off which Mitt "Two Face" Romney and his ads suggest. To defend a blantant lie like this should tell you what type of people support this clown.

    October 31, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Thomas

    If you wanted the American Auto industry to fail , go into bankruptcy and be sold to china for pennies on the dollar .

    Vote for Mitt Romney !

    October 31, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Name dennis

    thats all we need is for some politicion to spin a us ayarn which is an all out false hood .we have national disasterand were being lied to abouth the car industry when these americans are wooried about thier jobs.then try to spin tese yarns if we fall forthis we have been hit with the biggest con job in 100years

    October 31, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Gregg

    Like GM and Ford before it, Jeep will build cars in China – not for export to the US but for the China market. It is the same thing that is done in Europe. It is the same thing the the foreign car companies do in the US. That is why you have BMW in Georgia, Toyota in SC, Honda in Ohio and Nessan and VW in Tenn. We cannot make Jeeps in the US and send them to China because of pricing. It makes good business sense to bild where the market exists. T make it a political issue one week before the election is irresponsible and ludicrous.

    October 31, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Justice

    Everyone knows that GM and union ownership plus other auto mfg support is bought and paid for by the Obama admin and will be against what ever truths Romney has to say....Avalon is always landed toward the dems too.

    October 31, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. All republicans are neo nazis so progagit is no surprise

    The people of the United States are sick and tired of the neo-nazis and aryan brothhood approach of the republican party. From their presidential candidate who preaches behind closed doors that Africans are cursed by God to thugs like Portman who blatantly lie with no corrections. It's time to renew our pledge of December 7th and give these nazis what the deserve.

    October 31, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. NEVER to VOTE REPUBLICAN again

    Disgusting human being! We will never leave America in the hands of this LIAR and his GREEDY friends!
    VOTE OBAMA and Dem. party so we can get something done!

    October 31, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. 1twinsfan

    No jobs, NO JOBS, are being moved to China.

    October 31, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Art

    Mitt just booted the ball in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied and a runner on first. If I was the Dems I'd hammer on the dishonesty of this advertisement until voting day. It is a clear demonstration of the overall dishonesty of the Romney campaign and the anything-to-get-elected tactic of saying entirely different things to different audiences. This guy's been running for president his entire life and just cramped up in the last mile. Nicely done Mr. "I know how to get things done". LMAO

    October 31, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. snods-are-us

    Romney and UBS and US amnesty... Mitt should be in prison, not running for POS. The GOP has been hurting the US for years and they want you to vote for them! Mitch McConnel should be tried for treason. Flush out the GOP and start over we need 2 honest parties

    October 31, 2012 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. WakeUp

    They are not Moving jobs to China they are considering Adding production in china. This is common practice and American cars are already built around the world.
    If you dislike the actions of these Corporate Leaders (Making Money at all costs for the benefit of their investors) Just think what it will be like when you put one of them in charge of our county. I can't remember any CEO caring about creating local jobs. Their job is to make money and they can always make more if they pay their employees (you and I) less.

    October 31, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Tim

    When we have so many people voting for a pathalogical liar it says the American people are either stupid or they just don't care what their politicians says as long as they support their top 2 issues etc.... Not sure how they can even believe a politician who lies like Romney will do anything he says he will but.....

    October 31, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    Mitt Romney is a BOGUS IDIOT THAT WANTS TO DO AWAY WITH FEMA TOO....

    October 31, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Dilip Samuels

    Romney...the SERIAL LIAR.....JUST NOT FLIP FLOPS NOW.....THE jeep ad CONTROVERSY is FRAUDULENT.....AND senior politicians and the MEDIA ( Fox news excluded) should CASTIGATE ROMENEY

    October 31, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. Jojola

    We get down to the last week of campaigning and finally the media is calling out Mitt's lies. Where have CNN and the like been for the past year when Mitt's first campaign ad was a flat out lie and then he refused to take it down from his website? Mitt's entire campaign has been built on lie after lie but yet he was allowed (by the media) to get away with it unscathed. This man is running for the highest office there is and we still don't know what his policies will entail or what he’s hiding in his tax returns. Mitt has been allowed to duck and dodge crucial questions without even so much as a peep from media or if it is slightly mentioned, the story is sugar coated. I have never seen such a disingenuous campaign coming from a presidential candidate. Why do you think Mitt keeps on lying? It's because he is not being challenged on his lies by the media.

    October 31, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  19. DENNA

    Romney isn't bothered by facts. He gambling that there are enough voters in this country who don't care either. Those jobs are not going anywhere.

    October 31, 2012 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. AzDem

    I think America is showing it's true colors! We have not gotten over racism! They have hated the POTUS since day one! Romney has lied over and over. Regardless of Romney being proved a liar...people still will vote for him to get the black man out of office. What a shame!

    October 31, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  21. K

    Romney election will begin New Era of America of Filthy Politics, low moral Politicians, UN-stoppable corruption

    October 31, 2012 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Mitt the twit is lying if his mouth is moving. Ryan too. They are not qualified to inhabit the White House.

    October 31, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  23. simp

    @wkndthg
    that pathetic list you had in your lying blog is just that, pathetic. Get off of fox news loser and stop sprewing all your vicious LIES!!!!!!!

    October 31, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  24. Lee

    I'm a Mormon, and I'm telling you that your worst nightmare is to have a Mormon President who is a liar. And while he is lying, he very well knows that Bain Capital, of which he is still the majority stock-holder, IS shutting down a Sensata Technologies plant in Illinois and moving the work to a plant in China.

    October 31, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. James

    cited. the article he had cited.

    October 31, 2012 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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