Obama campaign: Romney auto bailout ad ‘hypocritical and indefensible’

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said a new Mitt Romney ad is among the most "indefensible" of the campaign. 

The ad criticizes President Obama's bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, as well as the governent-backed sale of Chrysler to Fiat, an Italian company that the ad says will now build Chrysler Jeeps in China. 

The Obama campaign has fired back hard at the commercial as the two sides battle for Ohio, a key swing state where polls show a tight race. The auto bailout is seen as boosting Obama in Ohio, which has many auto industry jobs. 

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Messina during a Monday conference call said the ad is “one of the most hypocritical and indefensible" commercials of the entire presidential campaign. 

“Public polling shows us up and gaining steam in Ohio ... so Romney, of course, is getting desperate," Messina said. "So what is his response? He released an ad in Toledo that everyone in America knows is flat-out false. It reeks of desperation, because that's what it is."

The fight over Chrysler began last week after Romney highlighted a report by Bloomberg that said Fiat was planning to move production of the Jeep from the United States to China. 

The Bloomberg report said Fiat was relying on growth in China to balance out weaker sales in Europe. It quoted the company's chief operating officer in Asia in stating the plans to return production to China. 

Fiat has since pushed back at the story, calling it false. A company spokesman in a statement last week said “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 the United States. Instead, Fiat argues it would be building Jeeps in the U.S. and China.

But Romney's campaign over the weekend played up the report with its new ad, highlighting Fiat's plans to build Jeeps in China.

“Who will do more for the auto industry? Not Barack Obama,” a narrator says in the commercial. “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.” 

The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a question from The Hill about Messina's comments.