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. Buckeye Joe

    Why doesn't Romney get the real facts before he spews off,.. he's hair trigger happy, knee jerk reaction and a liar, a bad combination for someone with their finger on the button

    October 31, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. ALittleBird

    @jon – That's just it. Despite your attempt to "spin" it your way, there are NO jobs moving to China. In fact, there is to be an expansion of jobs in the U.S. auto plants. The jobs mentioned in China are new jobs that are not taking away from American jobs, to build jeeps that will only be sold to the Chinese. Auto manufacturers worldwide have all done this for decades, including GM, Ford, VW and Toyota. That is, build in the market where you have new markets.

    October 31, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  3. Nick Thompson

    I find it funny that people seem to get the articles points confused. Fiat is not "moving jobs" they are thinking about adding jobs.

    To make this simple enough that my young child can understand it, lets propose an analogy.

    You have three apples on your desk. I pick up one of your three apples and put it on my desk. I have moved the apple.

    Now, imagine you once again have three apples on your desk. I go out and buy an apple at the local grocery store and put that apple on my desk. You still have three apples, and I have an apple, because I added an apple.

    Fiat was considering adding jobs in China to cover China's market. Not reduce the jobs here in America, or move the jobs to China.

    Real simple, but somehow even this very primitive idea gets lost in politics.

    October 31, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. pkrbkr

    This man and his party will stop at nothing to win....but it won't work! I agree with snods-are-us......This man Romney and his crew should be held accountable on election day.....lie, lie...lie.....that's all they do! No scruples whatever! Obama/Biden 2012

    October 31, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  5. doug sams

    All you hear is an echo from the left, "Lies" when there are articles that back Romney. Here is a lie for you. Obama knew about the terrorist and did what he needed to do. Nothing! Fact is, he can send seals to invade a country to kill a ghost(bin laden) but not to save Americans!

    October 31, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  6. ct

    It's a social experiment to see how many lies the Romney camp can repeat and then see if he is elected.

    October 31, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Romney has spent his entire life using creative lying to get what he wants.

    If he wins, and once he is unmasked from all the lying – expect him to take an even more radical hard right turn than GWB. He will hand power to the states, wait for them to collapse and consolidate all power into the hands of the Republican neo cons.

    Anyone who knowingly votes for a man who tell such outlandish lies, who is even outed by big business and his own political party has problems.

    Remember that Romney tried to sue the Republican party before the Republican Party convention for ways to twist and change their long established rules of conduct. This man is beyond rogue. Truth be told there are people in his own party that do not want him elected.

    October 31, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Do You Think Romney is Really Worried About Our Children?

    How many times have I heard Mitt Romney droning on and on about doing what is best for the children of America and how it is "immoral" to pass along debt to them.

    If he's so concerned about morality, why does Romney continually set the example that it is okay to lie to get what you want? Do you think Romney is really worried about our children?

    He's concerned about what is best for Mitt Romney. If he has to lie to win, he has no problem with that at all. What is best for America and the children are the least of his concern.

    If America elects this guy, they've got a liar in office who will be more worried about what is best for him and not remotely concerned about what is best for you and the children of America. Your gut hunch about this guy is right on, America. He's a salesman, and you're his target. All he really cares about is making the sale. There's no warranty for the crap he's selling. Caveat emptor. Buy at your own peril.

    October 31, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. Lee

    Your worst nightmare is to have a Mormon President who is a liar. I'm a Mormon, and I would not trust such a person. 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 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. John

    If anyone thinks Greg Martin isn't lying, they are dreamers. GM and any other car company will build their car where they can sell the most and get the biggest profit per car and it doesn't matter where that car ends up. That is why VW is building the new Passat in Mexico, they can sell it anywhere in the world and make more on it than if they made it here That is because they won't have to pay additional taxes that they would if the car was made here. Do you think there are more people in Mexico that would buy, or could, like Mr. Martin suggests? Once GM, Chrysler or whoever builds somewhere else , if you don't think those cars won't find a way back here, who'll stop them? Mr. Martin won't say a word, he'll be waiting for his yearly bonus check.

    October 31, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  11. Bill Sugnet

    The Bloomberg article DOES NOT MENTION China. It says Fiat is considering building Jeeps in Italy for export to North America. Doesn't Mr. Romney know the diference between Italy and China?

    This is outrageous lying and Romney and his campaign should be called on it.

    October 31, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Kirk in michigan

    Jon, WRONG AGAIN, the ad says they are adding jobs there, not moving jobs, when will you republicans be interested in the truth. a misleading ad that was intended to mislead,, pathetic liars

    October 31, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    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.
    ----------------

    Not only is it rare, it was the correct thing to do. Romney is flat out lying and continuing to perpetuate the lie. Bottom line: Romney will do anything, say anything with no truth to back it up. Tells you what kind of a man he is and what kind of President he would be. RIchard Nixon comes to mind.

    October 31, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. VN Vet

    CNN can send dozens of reporters to Ohio to cover this earth shattering story but none to find out why help was denied to the heroes of Benghazi-doesn't anybody think this is sad and unconscionable.

    October 31, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Praful R Shah

    It sad to say CNN is an other FOX NEWS. Recetly I have stopped watching.

    October 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. kaaria

    So if they are adding jobs in China to take care of the demand in China, why not add jobs in the US to take care of the demand in China. Therefore, you are shipping jobs overseas.

    October 31, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  17. DENNA

    Mitt Romney is starting to look less and less presidential and more like an oily con man. In fact, during that second debate when Romney tried to say that President Obama did not mention "terrorism" for 14 days after the Libya killings, Mittens looked positively maniacal. He face changed in a bad way that actually gave me a chill because I glimpsed pure hatred. Mitt Romney is not a nice man. I saw it that night.

    October 31, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. courtobserver

    GM has admitted that they are increasing the Jeep production line in China. Isn't that moving some Jeep production to China? Why not increase production in the U.S.? We did bail them out!

    October 31, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  19. kevin

    Please ..Please vote for Obama next week. Don't let this black hearted liar have any input in the future of this nation!

    October 31, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    Come one Mitt, you are so desperate. How long before you break out the Kenyan/Muslim rhetoric?

    October 31, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    The auto companies and their CEOs have already debunked this and stated in no uncertain terms that Mittens is lying and that they want him to stop it. The focus should not be "he said she said" amongst the Ohio representation...it should be "why the frig is Mittens still paying for this lie to be broadcast?"

    October 31, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "GM has admitted that they are increasing the Jeep production line in China"

    that's not what they said and that's not what they're doing. The CEO's and others' statements showing this to be a lie are easily found. Do your research an THEN open your yap.

    October 31, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  23. Ind.

    Hussein Obama, outsourcer and blamer.

    October 31, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  24. Romney Wants To Get Rid Of FEMA

    Release your tax returns Willard. You are a criminal for not disclosing income from off-shore accounts on your tax returns...THAT's why you don't. POS!!!

    October 31, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  25. Shelby

    You folks need to wake up before it is too late. Obama is getting fired Mit is winning the election !! It will be a land slide in the electroil voting. Because people like you that are followers instead of leaders will not prevail !! You drank the kool-Aid folks wake up !!!! Obama did what Romney said he would do with the auto industry !!

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