WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Chrysler, responding to presidential nominee Mitt Romney's remark that Jeep was "thinking of" moving to China, says Jeep production will stay in North America.
Romney brought up the matter Thursday while speaking at a campaign event in Defiance, Ohio.
"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.
The Republican candidate was evidently alluding to comments on conservative blogs in reaction to a news report this week that Chrysler LLC, owned by Fiat SpA, is considering building and marketing Jeeps in China, the Detroit News reported.
Writing Friday on Chrysler's blog, Chryslerllc.com, company spokesman Gualberto Ranieri suggested speculation production would be moved out of North American to China may have resulted from "a biased or predisposed approach" by commenters.
"On Oct. 22, 2012, at 11:10 a.m. ET, the Bloomberg News report 'Fiat Says Jeep Output May Return to China as Demand Rises' stated 'Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley [President and CEO of the Jeep brand] referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.'" Ranieru wrote.
"Despite clear and accurate reporting, the take has given birth to a number of stories making readers believe that Chrysler plans to shift all Jeep production to China from North America, and therefore idle assembly lines and U.S. workforce," the Chrysler spokesman said. "It is a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats."
Ranieri said Chrysler "has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China," but is "reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market."
He said U.S. Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Detroit News said.
Danny Kanner, a spokesman for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, said in a Twitter post: "Romney shamefully tried to scare voters tonight into thinking Jeep production moving to China. False."