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Chrysler Super Bowl commercial: Is Clint Eastwood stumping for Obama?

eastwoodClint02072012_optBY ADELE SAMMARCO
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

It was filmed mostly in the dark, a tall silhouette in the shadows, but the gravelly voice was undeniably distinct.

Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl commercial had hit home and it was timely. Americans today are facing hard economic times while battling a seemingly never-ending, lagging recession, and the nation as a whole was in need of inspiration.

The gritty actor-turned-director appeared to capture just that, along with the essence of what everyone is feeling — and that’s why marketing analysts believe Chrysler had touched upon a genuine theme viewers could relate to and share a common bond.

It was just two minutes long, but Chrysler's "Halftime in America" ad starring the 81-year-old Hollywood icon was praised as one of this year's best Super Bowl commercials in recent years.

But as with anything and everything, it’s almost virtually impossible to please everyone.

Republican conservative and right wing pundits criticized the ad, calling it a re-election campaign for President Obama and his auto-industry bailout plan.

In 2009, Eastwood, who describes himself as a Libertarian, but is a registered Republican, publically criticized the bailout and told the Los Angeles Times in November how he cut his and other big name actors' salaries to make the film, "Mystic River," suggesting CEOs should have done the same.

The former Mayor of Carmel, California told Fox News, “I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain. l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. 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. I am not supporting any politician at this time. Chrysler to their credit didn’t even have cars in the ad. Anything they gave me for it went for charity. If...Obama or any other politician wants to run with the spirit of that ad, go for it.”

The White House was not involved in making the ad, but did agree the message highlighted the “simple fact” that Obama had rescued the U.S. auto industry.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “He was not willing to allow, did not believe it was necessary to allow, the American automobile industry to collapse and disappear.”

Insisting the spot "had zero political content", Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne told WJR radio in Detroit Monday that Eastwood's words were his own. 

"He felt really deeply everything he said," Marchionne said. "There was not a single doubt in my mind when he spoke in the commercial that he was expressing his views."

Yet critics called the ad unauthentic because it was not filmed in Detroit.

"Yes, part of it was filmed in New Orleans," Chrysler Senior Marketing Manager Dianna Gutierrez told The Weekly Standard, "and some was filmed in various parts, such as Los Angeles."

In any case, Eastwood’s manager says the actor has not changed his views on the auto bailout.

 

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