The Election 2012 Weekly Report: The final countdown

The Election 2012 Weekly Report: The final countdown

For all the Jeeps in China

In the last full week of campaigning before the election, son of Michigan Mitt Romney drew the wrath of an unlikely constituency: car company CEOs. On the campaign trail last week, Romney told an Ohio audience, "Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China." The claim appeared to be based on a misreading of a Bloomberg story which reported that Chrysler would begin producing Jeeps in China for the local market to escape tariffs, but was not shifting production from the United States. Nonetheless, the Romney campaign doubled down on the attack with a new commercial claiming that, "[Barack] Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China."

A Chrysler spokesman described the claim as "a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats" and the company’s CEO Sergio Marchionne, one of the Italians in question, denied in a letter to employees that any production would be moved to China.  General Motors also denied the ad’s claims that it plans to cut jobs in the United States.

Marchionne wasn’t the only Italian fed up with Romney’s rhetoric this week. The La Repubblica newspaper ran an irritated editorial on Thursday after the Republican candidate mentioned the country along with Greece and Spain as a cautionary tale for the U.S. economy. 

Global warming back on the agenda

The issue of climate change has been conspicuously absent in this election. It was not mentioned once in any of the three presidential debates, even as both candidates touted their support for the coal industry. But the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy this week has put the issue back on the agenda, with political leaders including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggesting a link between the storm and human-caused global warming.

New York City’s independent mayor, Michael Bloomberg, made a surprise endorsement of Obama this week, citing the president’s steps on reducing carbon emissions as the main reason. His endorsement, published on, also blasted Romney for abandoning the emissions-cutting policies he supported as governor of Massachusetts.

Nonetheless, while both campaigns have been scrambling to respond to the storm, which dominated headlines for most of the week, neither candidate has gone as far as to put the damage in the context of climate change.

The Benghazi drip continues

The Central Intelligence Agency this week took steps to defend its response to Sept. 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. According to an account provided to the media by senior intelligence officials, CIA operatives rushed to the compound within 25 minutes of the attack and helped organize the evacuation of the survivors. The officials insisted they had encountered no resistance from Washington, though the information doesn’t address the shifting accounts provided by the administration in the wake of the attack.

A story published on Foreign Policy this week also reported that documents recently found at the Benghazi site show that the team at the consulate was concerned that they were under surveillance on the day of the attack and weren’t satisfied with the level of security provided by the Libyan government.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have written a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanding an explanation for the documents.

Playing the Castro card

The two candidates are running neck-and-neck in Florida heading into the last week of the campaign, and the Romney campaign has evidently decided to make a last-minute effort to lock down Cuban-American voters in the state with a Spanish-language ad noting the "endorsements" Obama has received from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, noting also that the Environmental Protection Agency sent out an Hispanic Heritage Month email containing a picture with a mural of Che Guevara. The ad failed to note that Fidel Castro would prefer a robot to either candidate.

The latest from FP:

Frank Januzzi wonders why Chinese human rights were never discussed in the campaign.

Rosa Brooks says the Republican military voter is a myth.

Nick Schifrin on why both campaigns are afraid to talk about the eurocrisis.

David Rothkopf on why Sandy could be a political gamechanger.

Plus, stay tuned for the latest on election eve from The Cable and Passport