Ford pulls “bailout” TV ad

Remember the Ford Motor Co. “real people” TV commercial that featured a Ford customer named Chris who told the cameras, “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government”?  According to the Detroit News, you won’t be seeing it on the air anymore:

With President Barack Obama tuning his re-election campaign amid dismal economic conditions and simmering antipathy toward his stimulus spending and associated bailouts, the Ford ad carried the makings of a political liability when Team Obama can least afford yet another one. Can’t have that.

The ad, pulled in response to White House questions (and, presumably, carping from rival GM), threatened to rekindle the negative (if accurate) association just when the president wants credit for their positive results (GM and Chrysler are moving forward, making money and selling vehicles) and to distance himself from any public downside of his decision.

In other words, where presidential politics and automotive marketing collide — clean, green, politically correct vehicles not included — the president wins and the automaker loses because the benefit of the battle isn’t worth the cost of waging it. (emphasis added)

The article also notes – fairly – that Ford CEO Alan Mulally to this day strongly supports the idea of special government financial assistance for the automobile industry, and that Ford had no problem asking the government for a $23 billion loan in 2006, when its faltering sales and massive debt load made the firm too great a credit risk for private lenders.

But with this move by Ford, apparently spurred by the White House, we get a clear view of how Barack Obama likes to manage things — he says doesn’t want to “run” GM and Chrysler, yet the White House apparently has no problem twisting arms and forcing executive decisions at a rival car company when it sees something that might make itself look bad.

During the Bush Administration, such a move would have been a front-page scandal.  But today, it’s just politics as usual, Obama-style.

2012 can’t get here soon enough.

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