In what is being called a scare tactic by his opposition, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney told a rally in Defiance, Ohio, on Thursday night that Chrysler is planning to move production of its Jeep models from North America to China.
"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," Romney said, according to The Detroit News. "I will fight for every good job in America. I'm going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it's fair America will win."
Although the exact source of Romney's intel wasn't immediately clear, several inaccurate stories were circulating the Web on Thursday making similar claims based on a story published by Bloomberg. The first paragraph of the Bloomberg article stated that Chrysler was planning to return Jeep production to China "and may eventually make all of its models in that country", which was misconstrued as Chrysler shifting Jeep's entire production base to China. In reality, Chrysler is exploring ways to produce Jeep vehicles in China for the Chinese market.
"Let's set the record straight: Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China,” Chrysler spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said. “It's simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation."
The Obama campaign immediately picked up on Romney's gaffe.
"Romney shamefully tried to scare voters tonight into thinking Jeep production moving to China. False,” Obama spokesman Danny Kanner tweeted.
Another Obama spokesman called Romney's statement "blatantly false."
"At an event in Defiance, Ohio tonight, Mitt Romney shamelessly tried to scare voters into thinking Jeep was moving to China and taking American jobs with it," campaign spokesman Matt McGrath said. "That is blatantly false, and speaks to how Romney will say absolutely anything to win votes.”
Chrysler's Toledo Jeep complex, which is about an hour away from Defiance, employs about 1,800 workers and the Michigan automaker recently outlined plans to add up to 1,400 new jobs to the facility by next year.