Mitt Romney’s Auto Whopper

For the past year, Mitt Romney has been charting new territory when it comes to running a mendacious presidential campaign, drawing complaints from his Republican rivals as well as Democrats and media fact-checkers. Now, his distortions are prompting complaints from two major corporations, notes William Boardman.

By William Boardman

When presidential rivals call each other liars or something close, that’s nothing new but it’s much more unusual for a major American corporation to challenge the honesty of a presidential candidate just days before an election, let alone for that to happen twice in one week.

Yet, that’s what confrontedRepublican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when he sought to undercut President Barack Obama’s advantage over the auto bailout, especially in Ohio and Michigan, by suggesting that many of those manufacturing jobs were headed to China.

Chrysler’s iconic Jeep Wrangler brand.

Chrysler Corp. flatly contradicted Romney’s assertions, followed by General Motors. Certainly the relationship of these automakers to the Republican Party is no longer what it was in the 1950s when one of President Dwight Eisenhower’s Cabinet members said that “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa” (although the quote is often paraphrased as “what’s good for General Motors is good for America”).

The catalyst for these sharp corporate reactions came in Defiance, Ohio, on Oct. 25, when Mitt Romney told a campaign rally: “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.”  [emphasis added]

However, that was not true. The Bloomberg News story stated: “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. [Chrysler] referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.” [emphasis added]

Chrysler executive Gualberto Ranieri responded promptly to Romney campaign comment with a blog statement that used  italics for emphasis: “Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.”

Ranieri called Romney’s conclusion “a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.” Romney neither responded not retracted the comment.

Instead, on Oct. 28, the Romney campaign came out with a television ad that kept pushing the story, with more carefully crafted language but still fueling the controversyFiredoglake reported that the ad is “so false that, as you can see by the title of the video, it’s posted on youtube by people opposed to Romney.”

Chrysler’s CEO Objected At Length

Next, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne went public on Oct. 30 in a lengthy email that began:  “Chrysler Group’s production plans for the Jeep brand have become the focus of public debate. I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”  [emphasis added]

After mentioning specifics of Chrysler’s production infrastructure, Marchionne concluded his email by saying: “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand. It is inaccurate to suggest anything different.”

Romney and his campaign have declined to discuss the Jeep statement on the record, despite repeated questions from reporters. Romney continued making variations of his initial claim in stump speeches, and his campaign issued a radio ad that went further, and claimed General Motors (GM) was also shipping jobs to 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 plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China.”

“The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst,” said General Motors spokesman Greg Martin:  “We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.”

GM spokesman Martin also said: “We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

By Oct. 31, the Denver Post joined other newspapers around the country, including the Toledo Blade, the Cleveland Leader, the Youngstown Vindicator and two Detroit papers criticizing Romney for “falsehoods and half-truths” (Denver), “blatant lies” (Cleveland), and “[making] things up out of whole cloth” (Youngstown).

William Boardman lives in Vermont, where he has produced political satire for public radio and served as a lay judge.

14 comments for “Mitt Romney’s Auto Whopper

  1. plantas
    November 7, 2012 at 17:22

    very nice post

  2. hammersmith
    November 2, 2012 at 09:41

    i would not vote for romney other than at gunpoint; however, these sites and publications, depending on their party political preference, at election time, routinely fill their pages w/ stories of the other guy’s lying, as if their guy is pure as the driven snow. what is the point of a hoping-to-be-taken-seriously publication wasting its credibility on this kind of sophomoric exercise?

  3. hammersmith
    November 2, 2012 at 09:37

    actually, crysler/fiat hopes to build jeep in italy. or so i read.

  4. Otto Schiff
    November 1, 2012 at 15:26

    The internet is full op specialists.
    Romney is a liar.
    Rehmat would be silent if it were not for Israel

  5. larry inman
    November 1, 2012 at 12:51

    I feel romney is the most dishonest person ever to run for the office of pres. Why else would he not show his tax returns when the average has been five yrs. In the past

  6. Gus
    November 1, 2012 at 10:08

    Christopher, George W. Bush was actually the one that did that. However, Obama did embrace that power, and took it further with assassination lists that include American citizens. You really think Romney will refute such power? He will embrace it just like Obama, and take us to war with Iran on top of it. No, Romney will be far worse than Obama.

    • bobzz
      November 2, 2012 at 00:04

      Sorry, Gus. Had I read further and seen your post, I would not have posted.

  7. Clifton
    November 1, 2012 at 09:43

    Nearly every word comes out of Romney’s mouth is a lie, but people still support him! Terrible

  8. christopher franke
    November 1, 2012 at 09:40

    Even if Governer Romney made a mistake riegarding Chrysler and G.M.
    is one thing but thr biggest liar and most dangerous man in the world resides in the White House . Do Americans not know that Barack H. obama signed many of your rights away ? But thats not headline news? So you as a citizen can be arrested and detained forever without ever knowing why or having a day in civilian court ? Wow . What a great President . Signing my rights away that millions of Americans fought and died for ? One example of many of Obama’s underminining America. Im voting for Romney.

    • Ted
      November 1, 2012 at 15:01

      Deliberate and repeated lying is not a “mistake”. And what are you talking about regarding Obama “signing your rights away”? Are you clueless about which party has a clear history of this tendency? You’re your own worst enemy.

    • bobzz
      November 2, 2012 at 00:01

      And you think Romney would not do the same? I believe will reverse Obama on this when I see it.

      • bobzz
        November 2, 2012 at 00:02

        That should be: I believe Romney will reverse Obama on this when I see it.

    • DeeToo
      November 3, 2012 at 17:55

      Please provide specifics. My rights and freedoms have not been impaired – though some in the GOP have tried recently to block my right to vote, my privacy, my right to choose medical care. Mr Romney supports these things, so I don’t support him. George Bush signed away my right to privacy when he signed the USA PATRIOT Act. Mr Romney supports that too.

      Mr Romney supports making war, not paying for it,is not hs own man and will do whatever told by the neo-cons and TeaPartiers – outsourcing his own work – so he can lay back and enjoy being CEO USA.

      The item you cite is not something I favor, but it was put in place by Bush, applies only to extreme cases of national security – something I feel far more comfortable with Obama defining than Romney. It applies to a tiny number of people, so is unlikely to apply to me. As the courts are clogged and full of cases, it seems most people have more than their share of opportunities to have their cases heard in court. USAPATRIOT Act – every financial institution in this country spends millions on enforcement of this, and everyone’s personal info is scrubbed and scanned and documented and reported to the federal government DAILY. I resent this invasion – one put in place by the GOP.

      President Obama does not lie. You may disagree with his views, but that comment is without basis. Your comments have no frame of reference, and smack of the chain mails so common these days.

      Please explain why you say he is a liar. I have not seen lies.

  9. Steve
    November 1, 2012 at 08:57

    I believe there are aspects of Mitt Romney’s involvement with the Mormon church, viewed from the context of the church’s past and present teachings and policies on race, that should be considered. They are discussed in an article appearing in the online magazine “Rule of Thumb” at the following link:

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