UAW denounces Romney comments on Jeep production

October 27, 2012
UAW denounces Romney comments on Jeep production
By DAVID SHEPARDSON
/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
Washington — United Auto Workers President Bob King criticized Mitt Romney’s campaign for refusing to retract an incorrect claim that Chrysler Group LLC was planning to shift production of all Jeep vehicles to China..
“It seems that every time Mitt Romney attempts to talk about the auto industry and how much he cares about American workers, he fumbles. This time he needs to take personal responsibility for perpetuating a deplorable and false statement about Chrysler, a U.S. automaker that has bounced back in a big way after bankruptcy,” King said in a statement released Saturday.
“Once again the differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama are clear: The president fought on behalf of U.S. autoworkers and didn’t let us down,” King said.
Romney’s campaign has declined to comment and the candidate hasn’t addressed the issue since making the comments this week.
On Thursday night, Romney told a crowd in Defiance, Ohio, that he had read a report that Chrysler might move Jeep production.
“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,” said Romney, citing an unnamed news story.
Earlier Thursday, Chrysler had rebutted blog reports that had incorrectly interpreted a Bloomberg News story that Chrysler was considering building Jeep vehicles in China for Chinese buyers.
“Let’s set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” wrote Gualberto Ranieri, Chrysler’s vice president of communications, who said the misinterpretation “is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”
The Obama campaign seized on the comments as it tries to win Ohio — a battleground state. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio and no candidate since 1960 has won the presidency without Ohio.
The Obama administration has made the $85 billion auto bailout and the thousands of auto jobs saved in Ohio a key part of its campaign to win the Buckeye State.
Romney opposed the bailout but said he would have provided financing after General Motors Co. and Chrysler had filed for bankruptcy. But many experts think the automakers would not have survived in late 2008 unless President George W. Bush had agreed to give them and their finance arms $25 billion in aid.
Obama added $60 billion and forced GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy in mid-2009.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a first-term Republican, defended Romney’s position in a Cleveland Plain Dealer op-ed Friday.
“The question was never whether to let Detroit go under, but how best to save it. And there is a legitimate debate on that. But it is simply inaccurate to say that Mitt Romney would not have provided federal help, and it is certainly not accurate to say the companies would not have gotten back on their feet,” Portman said.
Other UAW officials denounced the comments.
“Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about the auto industry and Chrysler’s production plans would know what Mitt Romney said wasn’t true,” said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department.
“Since the 2009 auto rescue and recovery, we’ve added 7,000 workers at Chrysler, and we’ll add a third crew next week at the Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit, — where Jeep Grand Cherokees and other models are made.”
Last year, Chrysler announced the addition of a second shift and 1,100 more jobs, along with a $500 million investment in upgrading the plant and adding a body shop.
Romney’s political director Rich Beeson told Politico this week that the auto bailout would not be enough to help Obama carry Ohio.
“We are peeling off an enormous amount of Democrat votes in those coal counties,” Beeson said. “They’ve dropped the auto bailout on us, but … there’s only so long you can ride that one-trick pony, and they just kept pounding away at it, and so that’s baked in right now and we’re tied.”

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