Rep. Eric Cantor certainly isn’t rushing to defend Mitt Romney’s infamous and misleading Jeep attack ad.
The Virginia lawmaker and House GOP number 2 said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that he’d “not seen the ad,” which has been running in Ohio and which drew a sharp rebuke from the CEO of Chrysler for its false suggestion that the company is shipping American jobs to China.
“I think the point of that ad is that we need a president who is actually going to focus on increasing the competitiveness of America,” Cantor said.
But asked directly by host David Gregory whether he thought the ad was “deceptive,” Cantor was evasive. “I’ve not seen the ad, I’ve just heard it now,” he said. “Apparently they’re not running it in Virginia.”
Cantor’s comments were quickly tweeted out by Obama campaign press secretary Lis Smith, who noted:
Even @EricCantor passes on defending @MittRomney’s deceptive auto ads.
In one version of the ad, an announcer declares:
Barack Obama says he saved the auto industry. But for who? Ohio or China? There now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in – you guessed it – China. Mitt Romney. He’ll stand up for the auto industry. In Ohio, not China.
In fact, Chrysler is mulling opening a production plant in China to serve the Chinese market. American jobs would not be affected, as the company’s CEO Sergio Marchionne made clear this week in an unusual note to employees.
The Obama campaign has hit also hit back hard, releasing its own ad calling the Romney charge “dishonest.” And even Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday called the ad “misleading.”
Still, another Romney surrogate took a different approach from Cantor. Asked Sunday by Candy Crowley of CNN why the Romney campaign had not taken the ad down, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio declared: ”the ad is accurate.”