There has been strong criticism from Chrysler, GM, fact checkers, and local media in Ohio of the Mitt Romney campaign's false claims that Chrysler is shifting its Jeep production line from the United States to China. But in reporting on the story, MSNBC's Chuck Todd attempted to shield Romney from criticism by claiming that the campaign would not have run its Jeep ad in Ohio had it known there would be such strong pushback from Chrysler and GM.
In fact, the Romney campaign went ahead with its television ad in Ohio on October 27 even after Chrysler had already pushed back on erroneous claims that Jeep is sending U.S. jobs to China. In a statement on October 25, Chrysler wrote on its website that "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China."
Yet, on October 26, Romney falsely claimed that "one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep -- now owned by the Italians -- is thinking of moving all production to China." The next day, the campaign debuted a TV ad in Ohio that echoed that false claim.
Another ad repeating the same debunked claim started airing on October 30.
But during a discussion of the Romney ad on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Todd stated: "I don't know whether they thought the ad would actually encourage GM and Chrysler to repudiate them. I think -- I wonder if they thought that was going to happen, whether -- if they knew that was gonna happen, whether they would have gone up with this ad."
On the same day that the Romney campaign released its false radio ad, both Chrysler and GM issued statements condemning the ads as untrue. GM spokesman Greg Martin stated: "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." Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne reaffirmed that "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China," adding: "It is inaccurate to suggest anything different."
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal cast the repudiation of the Romney ads by Chrysler, GM, and the Obama campaign as mere controversy between dueling campaigns, writing that the "two campaigns sparred Tuesday" over the ads.
Though the article noted that the ads have been harshly criticized by Chrysler, it nevertheless went on to report:
The Romney campaign ignored the Obama campaign's criticism over its initial TV spot, airing a new radio ad that says Chrysler "plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China."
In fact, Romney's television ad has received widespread criticism from fact-checkers. In awarding the ad "4 Pinocchios," Washington Post's Glen Kessler noted that the "overall message of the ad is clearly misleading -- especially since it appears to have been designed to piggyback off of Romney's gross misstatement that Chrysler was moving Ohio factory jobs to China."
PolitiFact rated the ad "Pants on Fire," saying it "strings together facts in a way that presents an wholly inaccurate picture." FactCheck.org added that Romney is "flat wrong when he said in his speech that Chrysler 'is thinking of moving all production to China,' and his ad is misleading when it says that Chrysler is 'going to build Jeeps in China.' "