GM calls latest Romney auto ad ‘politics at its cynical worst’

Freep notes: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has broadened his attack on President Barack Obama’s auto industry restructuring, implying that General Motors used the aid to hire more workers in China than in the U.S.

“Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio or China?” says the narrator in a radio spot running 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. And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China.”

GM quickly defended its performance.

“We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said. “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.”

Separately, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne used an e-mail to employees today to refute the implication in a Romney TV ad that Chrysler may move all Jeep production from the U.S. to China.

“Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China,” Marchionne stated in the e-mail. “The numbers tell the story,” followed by specific investments Chrysler has made at its plants in Detroit, Toledo and Belvidere, Ill. “Those include more than $1.7 billion to produce the successor of the Jeep Liberty and hire about 1,100 workers on a second shift by 2013.”

Marchionne also said Chrysler has created 2,000 jobs at its Jefferson North assembly plant since June 2009 where it makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The automaker has added 2,600 jobs in Belvidere, Ill., where its assembles the Jeep Patriot and Compass, along with the Dodge Dart.

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GM’s total U.S. employment did fall by about 14,000 from the end of 2008 until the end of 2011, according to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But the majority of those occurred in early 2009 in the crisis-driven months leading up to its bankruptcy restructuring.

Similarly to Chrysler, GM has added jobs at factories that have launched new products. Both companies are very profitable in the U.S. and those profits are offsetting losses GM, or in the case of Chrysler, Fiat, is suffering in Europe.

Chrysler reported a $381-million third-quarter profit. GM will report its results Wednesday.

On Monday, Obama’s campaign released an ad attacking Romney for his November 2008 editorial headlined “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” The ad said, “When the auto industry faced collapse, Mitt Romney turned his back,” and pointed out that Chrysler is adding jobs in Ohio.

Several fact-checking sources, including Politifact and the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, have labeled Romney’s TV spot inaccurate.

Marchionne confirmed in his e-mail previous statements that Chrysler plans to eventually restart vehicle production in China because the market “would not otherwise be accessible” without making vehicles there. Chinese regulations make it very difficult to import foreign vehicles.

“This ultimately will help bolster the Jeep brand, and solidify the resilience of U.S. jobs,” Marchionne said. “Jeep is one of our truly global brands with uniquely American roots. This will never change.”