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Is Mitt Romney ad on Jeep jobs misleading?

A new Romney campaign ad, running in the battleground state of Ohio, implies that Chrysler is moving US jobs building Jeeps to China, and that Obama is at fault for having 'sold Chrysler to the Italians.'

By Staff writer / October 30, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks before participating in a campaign event collecting supplies from residents and local relief organizations for victims of superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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Is Jeep moving US manufacturing jobs to China? That’s the implication in a new ad from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign that’s running in the key battleground state of Ohio.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Auto manufacturing is a big part of the Buckeye State economy, and Mr. Romney’s chances there may have been damaged by President Obama’s assertion that Romney opposed the federal bailout of the auto industry. The new Jeep spot is likely Romney’s attempt to reclaim some votes on this issue.

First, let’s look at the ad itself. Titled “Who Will Do More?,” the 30-second spot opens with the general charge that Barack Obama won’t do as much as Romney will to help car firms in the future. It says Romney has a plan for this, though it doesn’t go into specifics, and then notes that the former Massachusetts governor is backed by ex-Chrysler chief Lee Iacocca and the editorial page of The Detroit News.

Then it reaches the crux of the matter. “Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.”

Here’s the clever aspect of this: Taken apart, each clause in those two sentences is true, or at least defensible. But put together, they’re implying that Mr. Obama’s actions have led to Jeep jobs jumping to Beijing. That’s not true. It’s an assertion that the fact-checking website Politifact says “throws reality into reverse.”

We’ll run through the paragraph piece by piece. Yes, Obama did take GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy in early 2009, as Romney had earlier suggested in an opinion piece in The New York Times. But the Obama administration arranged for government debtor-in-place financing to take the firms through bankruptcy court, while Romney envisioned the private marketplace providing that money. Given the extent the world’s financial woes at the time, Romney’s expectation might have been unrealistic.

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