By Keith Laing - 11/02/12 07:42 PM EDT
A former Chrysler executive is endorsing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Current Chrysler officials have engaged in a tense back-and-forth with Romney's campaign over a disputed report about its intentions to build cars in China.
Romney has suggested in ads that the company's Chinese expansion will come at the expense of American workers. Chrysler officials have insisted that they would be building cars in China for Chinese customers.
Former Chrysler President Hal Sperlich called the disagreement between the auto company and the former Massachusetts governor a distraction in a USA Today op-ed endorsing Romney.
"But politicizing these issues misses the point we need to think about as Americans," Sperlich continued. "Every car company on the planet needs to focus on the market to try to best serve its customers. It needs the best products, the highest quality and the most competitive costs, and should go to whatever markets it chooses to serve."
Sperlich said Romney would create the most conducive economic environment for car companies to thrive.
"Here is where the politicians come in: What they can do is feverishly participate in a global competition among countries to make our country the most attractive location for production, thus bringing the best jobs to our people," he wrote. "Gov. Romney understands this. As president, he would take the steps to make the U.S. auto industry more competitive."
Sperlich called the arguments about the $80 billion bailout of the U.S. auto industry between the Romney and Obama campaigns "small ball debates."
"My former Chrysler boss, Lee Iacocca, and I have watched the last four years, and it hasn't been pretty with so many Americans out of work," he said. "Gov. Romney proposes a turnaround for America that will make America the place to do business, providing the jobs our people need. I know it's a cliché, but we can't afford four more years like the last four."
President Obama has hammered Romney for his opposition to the 2008 and 2009 loans to Chrysler and General Motors. He seized Friday on the unusually forceful pushback on the GOP nominee's ads from both companies.
“You’ve got folks who work at the Jeep plant who have been calling their employers worried asking, 'Is it true?' " Obama said during a rally in Hilliard, Ohio, where the auto industry has a heavy presence. “And the reason they're making these calls is because Gov. Romney has been running an ad that says so, except it’s not true."
"These are people’s jobs," Obama continued. "These are people’s lives. You don’t scare hard-working Americans just to scare up some votes. That’s not leadership."