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The Romney campaign’s latest attempt to obscure its candidate’s true position on the auto bailout appears to be backfiring, as Romney has found himself under fire for releasing one of the least honest ads of the entire 2012 campaign.

As Sam Stein of The Huffington Post explains, the ad uses deceptive wording to obscure both Romney’s and President Obama’s true positions on the auto industry. It says that the president “took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy,” without mentioning that he also provided government support to help the companies survive the process — or that Romney himself wrote an op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” and slammed the bailout as “crony capitalism.” It also cites the Detroit News’ endorsement of Romney as evidence of his support of the auto industry, without mentioning that the endorsement specifically criticized Romney’s “wrong-headedness on the auto bailout.”

Most egregiously, the ad repeats Romney’s lie that Jeep is considering moving its production from Ohio to China — a whopper that Chrysler itself forcefully debunked last week.

While the ad does not flatly lie, as Romney did, it accuses President Obama of selling “Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.” Left unsaid is the fact that Fiat — the Italian company that owns Chrysler — is expanding production in China to meet rising demand, but not taking a single job out of Ohio in the process.

The Obama campaign swiftly responded to Romney’s misleading ad with a spot of its own, which will run in Ohio.

The ad, titled “Collapse,” points out that Chrysler rebuked Romney’s false claim about Jeep, and notes that Jeep is actually adding jobs in Ohio. “Mitt Romney on Ohio Jobs: wrong then, dishonest now,” the ad concludes.

Former President Bill Clinton also weighed in on the controversy, slamming Romney’s ad as “the biggest load of bull in the world.”

Romney’s reliance on the easily debunked Jeep lie suggests that, as Greg Sargent puts it in The Plum Line, Romney has run out of answers on the auto bailout. Throughout the course of the campaign Romney has attacked the Obama administration’s actions, falsely asserted that he supported early government intervention, and even claimed that Obama followed his advice on how to save the auto industry. None of it has worked, and — largely because of his weak record on the auto bailout — Romney has been unable to move up in the polls in Ohio. Now he’s been reduced to repeating an easily debunked lie in an attempt to scare voters into his camp.

That certainly doesn’t seem like the strategy of a campaign that is confident that it will carry the state.

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