By Keith Laing - 10/31/12 09:33 PM EDT
Mitt Romney's campaign pushed back Wednesday at complaints from Chrysler and General Motors that his ads are inaccurate.
Romney campaign spokesman Jonathan Burks in an interview with the Wall Street Journal said nothing leaders from the two companies have said contradicts the pair of ads running in the critical swing state of Ohio.
"Their comments don't refute anything in our ads," Burks told the Journal.
GM and Chrysler have responded to the ads with unusually fierce criticism.
A GM spokesman said the ads came from a "parallel universe" while Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who leads the company that bought Chrysler after its bailout, said production of Jeep vehicles would not be moved to China in a letter to employees that was published in the Detroit News.
In the ads, Romney takes on Obama for saying he saved the auto industry by questioning where U.S. automakers are building their cars.
“Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry,” a narrator says in the Romney radio ad. “But for who? Ohio or China? Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China. And now comes word that Chrysler is starting to build cars in, you guessed it, China.”
The two companies argue the ads are misleading because they have added jobs in the U.S. since the bailout. They also argue the bailout prevented them from having to cut U.S. jobs.
GM and Chrysler acknowledge they are also producing cars in China, but argue that the cars are being built for that market. Marchionne said Chrysler plans to invest $1.7 billion to develop a new generation Jeep SUV, including $500 million to expand a Toledo auto plant. He said this would add 1,100 jobs by 2013.
The dust up over autos comes in the closing days of a contentious campaign that could possibly be decided by Ohio.
The Obama campaign has made the president's support of the auto bailout a keystone of his campaign, and believes it has resonated in Ohio where polls show Obama with a lead.
Romney, for his part, is trying to cut into that lead with attacks on the bailout. Romney's campaign has also said in recent days that it can compete in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the ads might also be effective.
Obama's campaign argues Romney is bluffing if he thinks he can win Michigan or Pennsylvania, with Obama chief strategist David Axelrod promising Wednesday to shave his signature mustache if Romney takes Michigan. The Obama campaign all year has criticized Romney for an op-ed he wrote after the bailout in The New York Times that was headlined "Let Detroit go bankrupt."
Democrats have seized on the car companies statements to argue that Romney is lying to voters in an attempt to reverse his standing in Ohio, where public polls have shown a small, but persistent lead for the president.
-This story was updated at 6:26 p.m.