Several members of the production crew of Chrysler Group LLC's Halftime in America commercial starring Clint Eastwood also made art in support of President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The publication's story could provide more fuel for Republicans, who have denounced the ad as a virtual endorsement for Obama's re-election this fall.
The story -- entitled Clint Eastwood's Chrysler Super Bowl Ad: The Untold Obama Connection -- details several members of the Wieden+Kennedy ad agency team that produced the Eastwood-narrated ad have privately supported Obama in the past. The report comes amid criticism from Republicans and prominent conservatives and amid rebuke from Eastwood and Chrysler.
I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama, Eastwood told Fox News on Monday. It was meant to be a message, just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK.
The Reporter points out some members of the team have privately supported Obama's first campaign effort. It highlights creative director Aaron Allen, who made a poster called United the States of America, which transforms an Obama silhouette into a Venn diagram that brings red and blue colors together. It promoted unification of partisan red and blue states.
Jimm Lasser, the ad's art director, has an art exhibit in New York that displays Obama-themed Nike shoes. Michael Tabtabai, another creative director, recently posted what The Hollywood Reporter says are pro-Obama messages to his Twitter account. Obama x Incredible Hulk. America STRONG! reads the highlighted Tweet.
Chrysler's commercial was an instant sensation across social media because of its uplifting and nationalistic tone, conveyed by Eastwood. But it came under fire from conservatives almost as immediately, most notably former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove.
The leadership of the auto companies feel they need to do something to repay their political patronage, Rove told Fox News.
In 2008 and 2009, Bush and Obama pumped billions into two faltering U.S. automotive industry titans, Chrysler and General Motors Co. Both companies have repaid the loans well ahead of schedule, but the U.S. government will still likely lose money as it siphons off its 26 percent hold in GM.
The recovery and bounce back of the automotive industry is set to become a major theme of the general election this summer and fall, especially if Republican front-runner Mitt Romney becomes the challenger to Obama. Obama has already begun touting the industry's rise as a success of his administration, while Romney opposed the bailouts and has stuck to that stance even during the recovery. He favored a traditional bankruptcy process without government involvement.
In a speech in Las Vegas at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, Bush defended the bailouts and said he would sign off on them all over again.
I didn't want there to be 21 percent unemployment, Bush said Monday in the closing speech at National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas, according to Bloomberg. I didn't want to gamble. I didn't want history to look back and say, 'Bush could have done something but chose not to do it.' And so I said, 'No depression.'
Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has also rebuked Rove's statements, saying the commercial has zero political content.
I think we need to be careful, and God knows, I mean I can't stop anybody from associating themselves with a message, but it was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part, he said on a Detroit radio show.
We are as apolitical as you can make us. You know, we're just an ingredient of a big machine here in this country that makes us go on. I wasn't expressing a view and certainly nobody inside Chrysler was attempting to influence decisions. The message is sufficiently universal and neutral that it should be appealing to everybody in this country and I sincerely hope that it doesn't get utilized as political fodder in a debate. But you know.
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