The CEO of Chrysler is defending a controversial Super Bowl ad some Republicans have argued is an endorsement of President Obama.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a radio interview in Detroit Monday that the commercial, in which actor Clinton Eastwood says "it's halftime America, and our second half is about to begin," was not an endorsement of Obama, who declared in his State of the Union address last month that "the American auto industry is back."
"It has zero political content," Marchionne said of the Super Bowl ad in an interview with Detroit radio station 760 AM WJR.
The commercial, called "It's Halftime America," touted the recovery of the American auto companies after the bailouts of 2008 and 2009. The U.S. government lent millions to General Motors and Chrysler, and the companies have seen their fortunes increase along with fellow American car company Ford, which did not accept a federal bailout.
"It was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part," Marchionne continued. "We are as apolitical as you can make us … I wasn't expressing a view and certainly nobody inside Chrysler was attempting to influence decisions."
Former President George W. Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, sharply criticized the Chrysler ad Monday morning. The auto bailouts were first initiated under Bush in the fall of 2008, but Rove said in an interview with Fox News he was "offended" by the commercial.
“I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising,” Rove said.
Current White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer offered a different take, writing on Twitter after the Chrysler commercial aired "saving the America Auto Industry: Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on."
Chrysler aired a popular ad in last year's Super Bowl that featured rapper Eminem.
Obama's campaign manager, David Alexrod agreed, tweeting "Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?"
The full Chrysler "It's Halftime America" ad can be watched below: