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Mitt Romney's new sloga,
Mitt Romney's biggest challenge in Ohio is probably his opposition to President Obama's successful plan to save the auto industry from collapse—no matter how hard he tries, he can't seem to escape his position that we should have just "Let Detroit go bankrupt." So on Thursday, Romney tried out a new approach: instead of trying to defend his position on the auto bailout, he claimed that under Obama's leadership, Chrysler was hatching a plan to move all of its Jeep production to China.

You can understand why Romney would try to reframe the auto bailout story, but the big problem was that his claim was completely false. Jeep is considering producing vehicles in China for consumption in China—just like Toyota builds cars here in the United States. But it's not considering moving any existing production capacity outside of the country, and certainly not all of it, as Romney had claimed.

But even though Romney was caught with his pants down, he's now put up a new television ad that continues to push the Jeep-to-China lie.

The key line is in the ad asserts that while President Obama "sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China, Mitt Romney will fight for every American job." It doesn't explicitly say that Jeep will move American jobs to China, but the rhetorical contrast that it sets up with Romney allegedly fighting "for every American job" it is clear that the ad is intended to convince viewers that under Obama, Jeep is going to shift production overseas. That's simply not true.

The fact that Romney chose his words with a clear eye towards maintaining plausible deniability is actually more disturbing than if he had simply gotten his facts wrong. Everybody makes mistakes; the test is whether you correct them. When Romney claimed Jeep was considering moving all of its production to China, he got called out for it. But instead of correcting his false claim or at least dropping it, his campaign tweaked the language of the claim to be less egregious (in isolation) but equally deceptive (in context).

This is a pattern of behavior consistent with pathological dishonesty that goes far beyond the normal spin and fact-butchering of politics-as-usual. It's the kind of carefully crafted deception that has become the hallmark of Mitt Romney and his campaign. It's a serious character flaw, and if you're troubled by it when Romney is merely the Republican nominee, imagine how much worse it would be with him in the White House.


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