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Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad: why some Republicans support it

Some Republicans – most notably Newt Gingrich – like the Chrysler Super Bowl ad featuring Clint Eastwood. Indeed, the controversy over the ad might have little to do with the ad, at all. 

By Staff writer / February 8, 2012

Actor and director Clint Eastwood speaks with reporters during the opening of the Warner Bros. Theater at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington earlier this month.

Cliff Owen/AP

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Many Republicans didn’t like Chrysler's Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad, “It’s Halftime in America.” Former Bush White House political guru Karl Rove was perhaps the biggest name to voice his dislike of the spot, which featured Mr. Eastwood talking in his iconic granite-chip voice about Detroit and the auto industry’s renewal.

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The ad – and the positive way in which some Obama administration officials responded to it­ – “makes me nervous about the link between big government and the big businesses it bailed out,” wrote Mr. Rove in a Feb. 7 Fox News opinion piece.

Now, we’ve written before that as a native Detroiter we saw the ad as a paen to the Motor City and its resilience in the face of adversity. And that’s how Eastwood himself is portraying it. In a statement released earlier this week to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, the former mayor of Carmel, Calif., said that he thought the ad was something all politicians could get behind.

“It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America,” said Eastwood.

And here’s an interesting development: some Republicans are defending the ad, as well.

There’s GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, for one. “I liked the tone of that ad,” he said in a Feb. 8 campaign stop at a Jergens Inc. plant in Cleveland. “The world has counted us down before and we’re just regrouping,” he said.

OK, it’s not like Mr. Gingrich is part of the current GOP establishment. But would you have thought that someone presenting himself as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney would go against Rove? Hmm, you’re right. That might make sense. Rove defines the GOP establishment. Gingrich needs to have a second-half primary comeback himself.

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