Romney under fire for ad claim that Jeep brand moving to China

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing criticism for an ad his campaign in running in Ohio that repeats a disputed claim that Chrysler is moving production of its Jeep brand to China.

The ad, called “Who Will Do More,” is intended to counter Democratic attacks on Romney’s opposition to the $80 billion bailout that was given to Chrysler and General Motors in 2008 and 2009.

But the ad references a report that Chrysler is outsourcing its U.S. Jeep production, despite a statement from the company that it is considering opening a plant in China to build cars for Chinese consumers. 

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“Who will do more for the auto industry? Not Barack Obama,” the ad said. “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.” 

Chrysler was sold to Italian automaker Fiat after the bailout in a deal that the Obama administration helped orchestrate. The company has denied it is moving production to China, saying last week that “it is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats” to conclude that it is planning to build U.S. Jeeps outside of the country. 

"There are times when the reading of a newswire report generates storms originated by a biased or predisposed approach," Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri wrote in a blog post.

"On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report 'Fiat Says Jeep Output May Return to China as Demand Rises' stated 'Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio," Ranieri continued. "Manley (President and CEO of the Jeep brand) referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China."

President Obama has hammered Romney over an op-ed he wrote in the New York Times that was titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," and the auto bailout is widely thought to be buoying the president to a slim, but persistent lead in Ohio polls. 

Democrats pounced on Romney’s ad Sunday, pointing to the previous Chrysler statement and calling the commercial untruthful. 

“Romney has become THE definition of a desperate & deceptive candidate as he airs a completely false ad on Jeep moving to China #shameful,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who is a surrogate for President Obama, tweeted Sunday night.

Romney’s campaign declined to comment on the criticism of the commercial, pointing to the earlier Bloomberg report that is cited in the clip.

Obama’s campaign circulated a list of critical news articles about the ad with the subject “New Romney Ad: ‘Erroneous’…‘Astonishingly Misleading’…‘No Good Explanation’… ’Despicable’… ‘Desperate’… ‘Lie’

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