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Open and Honest

November 1, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mitt called an hour ago. I’m not much into answering the phone these days. Barack called earlier, while we were out. When I got home, I listened to the voicemail, in which someone came on to say he had President Obama on the line. Or something silly like that. A few minutes later, there was a call from an unknown number that I wouldn’t have answered except that I’ve been making every effort for four days to reach family in New York, so you never know, it could be someone important using another phone.

Nope. Just Mitt, to let me know that he will lead me openly and honestly. I’m not sure which word he lost me on. Lead? Open? Honest? I have to say, even if the presidential nominee is my hero, I don’t want to be patronized by being told how he’s going to lead me. But open? I can’t remember the last president who was open. Forget that. Honest? That was too much. The most dishonest presidential candidate in my lifetime and he dares use that word?

Let’s have a look, just for instance, at what he’s up to these days in Ohio, pushing the business about Obama and Chrysler shipping jobs to China. Forget what I think. Let’s turn to today’s editorial in the Toledo Blade. How much should I quote? Maybe this is enough:

In the fi­nal few days of the pres­i­den­tial con­test, Mitt Rom­ney ev­i­dently rec­og­nizes that his op­po­si­tion to the fed­eral res­cue of Gen­eral Mo­tors and Chrysler is costing him voter sup­port he needs in Ohio and Mich­i­gan. So the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee is con­duct­ing an ex­er­cise in de­cep­tion about auto-in­dus­try is­sues that is re­mark­able even by the stan­dards of his cam­paign.

At an ap­pear­ance last week in De­fi­ance, Mr. Rom­ney an­nounced that “Jeep, now owned by the Ital­ians, is think­ing of mov­ing all pro­duc­tion to China.” That as­ser­tion was based on an am­big­u­ously worded news re­port.

Chrysler, which owns Jeep and in which the Ital­ian auto­maker Fiat has a ma­jor­ity stake, quickly de­nied the re­port. A com­pany spokes­man said Mr. Rom­ney’s rhe­tor­i­cal leap “would be dif­fi­cult even for pro­fes­sional cir­cus ac­ro­bats.” But the Rom­ney cam­paign launched an ad in Ohio that claimed that Pres­i­dent Obama, who pre­sided over the auto bail­out, “sold Chrysler to Ital­ians who are go­ing to build Jeeps in China.”

Chrysler CEO Ser­gio Mar­chionne re­moved all doubt about his com­pany’s in­ten­tions this week in an email to em­ploy­ees: “Jeep pro­duc­tion will not be moved from the United States to China,” he said. “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.”

He ac­knowl­edged that Chrysler in­tends “to re­turn Jeep pro­duc­tion to China, the world’s larg­est auto mar­ket, in or­der to sat­isfy lo­cal mar­ket de­mand, which would not oth­er­wise be ac­ces­sible.” The com­pany also wants to avoid heavy im­port du­ties. But that’s a long way from Mr. Rom­ney’s in­sin­u­a­tion that the auto­maker is ship­ping jobs from Toledo to China.

Mr. Mar­chionne noted that Chrysler is in­vest­ing $500 mil­lion in its Toledo as­sem­bly com­plex and plans to add 1,100 jobs there by next year, largely to build a suc­ces­sor to the Jeep Lib­erty sport-util­ity ve­hi­cle. He vowed “that the iconic Wran­gler name­plate, cur­rently pro­duced in our Toledo, Ohio, plant, will never see full pro­duc­tion out­side the United States.”

Regard­less, a new ra­dio ad for the Rom­ney cam­paign that has got­ten heavy play in Toledo asks whether the Pres­i­dent bailed out the do­mes­tic auto in­dus­try for “Ohio — or China?” It asks: “What hap­pened to the prom­ises made to au­to­work­ers in Toledo and through­out Ohio — the same hard-work­ing men and women who were told that Obama’s auto bail­out would help them?”

Honest indeed.

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