Apparent political undertones in Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler Group LLC were evident in the reaction it provoked. The nationalistic tone for the ad, Halftime in America, left viewers wondering whether it implied that the upcoming 2012 Presidential election is halftime for President Barack Obama and that he deserves a second term.
The ad pushes many of the same themes Obama is expected to convey in his re-election campaign this year. If Obama goes head-to-head with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, he will look to tout the auto bailout and subsequent recovery as one of the main contrasts between himself and Romney. Romney has said the auto industry would have recovered faster had the companies gone through a more traditional bankruptcy process without government aid.
But Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said Monday the commercial was not intended to be political. Speaking on the Paul W. Smith Morning Show on WJR-AM Monday, Marchionne said Chrysler is as apolitical as you can make us.
It has zero political content, Marchionne said, according to a transcript of his appearance released by Chrysler. 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.
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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Marchionne said the ad worked so well because Eastwood believed in the message of the commercial. He said Eastwood agreed to narrate the commercial after all money paid to him went to charity.
He's at a point in his life where he doesn't have to prove anything to anybody, Marchionne said. You know, the great thing about being 81 years old is that you've got standing and you've got stature. If anything at all, age gives it to you, but in his case it's his career and what he's been able to accomplish, and he felt really deeply everything he said. I've spoken to him. There was not a single doubt in my mind that when he spoke on the commercial he was expressing his views.
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