KETTERING, Ohio — In recent ads, Republican Mitt Romney seems determined to ignore facts critical to the auto industry as he seeks support from a key voting group in the waning days of a close race for the White House.
Even some Republicans as well as the automakers say Romney’s campaign went too far with recent TV and radio ads that claim Chrysler and General Motors are adding jobs in China at the expense of workers in Ohio.
“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,” said a radio ad running in Toledo and Dayton, where thousands of people rely on the auto industry for jobs.
“And now comes word that Chrysler is starting to build cars in, you guessed it, China.”
The two named auto companies moved quickly to rebut the notion that they are moving U.S. jobs overseas.
“Chrysler Group’s production plans for the Jeep brand have become the focus of public debate,” CEO Sergio Marchionne wrote in an email to employees Tuesday. “I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China.”
“We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” said Greg Martin, a spokesman for GM. “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.”
Romney’s campaign declined to comment.
The ads mark Romney’s latest attempt to reframe the debate on an issue that has plagued him from the beginning of his candidacy in Ohio, a crucial battleground state that has deep roots in the auto industry.
He has long opposed the auto industry bailout that Obama’s administration facilitated in the early days of the administration, saying he would not have permitted the government to loan General Motors and Chrysler federal funds to help them through a managed bankruptcy.
Several Republican strategists said the Romney campaign probably went too far by airing a TV ad in Ohio that suggests Jeep will move some operations out the state.
Democrats have taken notice — and exception — to Romney’s recent maneuvering.
Campaigning for Obama in Youngstown on Monday, former President Bill Clinton said Jeep has called Romney’s claim “the biggest load of bull in the world.”