Mitt Romney misleads in Ohio auto bailout ad

Mitt Romney has new ad in Ohio that aims to turn President Obama's decision to bail out General Motors against him. The Mitt Romney ad, while technically accurate in its claims, is misleading. 

Tony Dejak/AP
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event at Avon Lake High School Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Avon Lake, Ohio. Romney has released a new ad in the battleground state criticizing President Obama's moves during the auto industry bailout.

TITLE: "Who Will Do More?"

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: Northern Ohio markets, including Toledo and Youngstown.

KEY IMAGES: The ad opens with a car crossing a city bridge and cuts to other images of people in their cars — a young woman, a young black couple, and a baby in a booster seat.

"Who will do more to support the auto industry? Not Barack Obama," a male narrator says, adding, "Mitt Romney has a plan to help the auto industry." The ad then shows video of Lee Iacocca, noting Romney had been endorsed by the longtime auto executive.

The ad then cuts to images of old cars being crushed. "Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China," the narrator says. "Mitt Romney will fight for every American job."

ANALYSIS: This ad, airing in Ohio, a major battleground state, in the campaign's final days, is an effort by the Romney campaign to turn Obama's decision to bail out General Motors and Chrysler against the president.

Romney's opposition to the bailout has bedeviled him in Ohio, where thousands of auto industry jobs were saved by the federal intervention. Polls show Romney consistently trailing Obama in Ohio, and a loss there would make it extremely difficult for the Republican hopeful to assemble the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

The ad, while technically accurate in its claims, is misleading.

Its assertion that Obama took GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy is true. But the ad fails to mention the billions in government loans he extended to the two companies that allowed them to come out of bankruptcy and reorganize. Both companies are now profitable.

Romney also pressed for GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt, which he does not mention in this ad. He also wrote in a widely publicized New York Times column that if the companies received a government bailout, "You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."

It's true that Chrysler is now largely owned by Fiat, an Italian auto company that purchased a large stake in Chrysler when it was going through its bankruptcy reorganization. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne gave Chrysler management expertise and technology that has helped the company make a comeback.

It's also true that Chrysler is looking to produce some of its Jeep product line in China. But the company's plans do not threaten Jeep production in the United States, as the ad seems to suggest.

The ad is more carefully worded that Romney's claim in Ohio last week that "one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China." Democrats cried foul, and Chrysler quickly released a statement saying it had "no intention" of shifting production from the U.S. to China. A company spokesman said Chrysler would build new plants in China to satisfy demand in Asia and elsewhere but that "U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation."

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