09/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain DHL Deal Hit Hard In New Obama Ad

*** Updated Below ***

The Obama campaign promised, late last week, that they would keep attacking John McCain and his campaign manager for their ties to a company merger that could lead to thousands of job losses in Ohio. And today they are following through on that threat.

The Illinois Democrat came out with a new ad on Friday, titled "Punch," that focuses on the testimonies of Ohio DHL workers who could lose their jobs should the company send their shipping practice to UPS.

"If DHL -- if something happens -- it's going to be like a ghost town... I thought I was doing a good job providing for my family. And to have that taken away.

"Anchor: In Washington, John McCain helped pave the way for foreign-owned DHL to take over an American shipping company. McCain's campaign manager was lead lobbyist for the deal. Now, thousands of Ohio jobs at risk.

"It's tough times. When it's a foreign entity, coming in and sucker punching us. That's how this felt."

The spot is a reflection both of how perious the DHL deal is for McCain and how important Ohio is in the general election. The presumptive Republican nominee's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid to lobby on behalf of Deutsche Post's takeover of DHL back in 2003. McCain pushed for the deal in the Senate despite the objections of some of his colleagues. At the time, jobs were created because of the merger. And Davis has since left his lobbying post. But the town of Wilmington, Ohio is now threatened with the loss of more than 8,000 should its DHL plant close down.

The ad, Obama spokesman Bill Burton writes, is up on television in Ohio.

UPDATE: McCain spokesman Brian Rogers sends reporters a link to a Factcheck.org article, describing the Obama ad as painting "a false picture." From the site:

Ads from the AFL-CIO and the Obama campaign claim that McCain is partly to blame for the loss of more than 8,000 jobs in Ohio. They paint a false picture.

There's at least some truth in both ads: German-based DHL announced a deal that could result in 8,200 lost jobs in Wilmington, Ohio. And McCain did in fact oppose an amendment that would have kept DHL from buying Wilmington-based Airborne Express. McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was also a DHL lobbyist charged with easing the merger through the Senate.

But the ads go too far. Some statements about McCain are misleading and some of the inferences the ads invite are unsubstantiated:

The ads charge that McCain opposition to a 2003 amendment helped DHL and amounted to turning his back on workers. That's misleading. McCain said he opposed a version of the amendment because it was a special project inserted into an unrelated bill, not to help DHL. And the Teamsters union praised the merger at the time, saying that it would lead to more jobs. And at first, more jobs indeed followed.

The ads also imply that the DHL merger is a direct cause of the job losses in Ohio, which we find to be both unlikely and unsubstantiated. Airborne Express had laid off 2,000 employees before the merger, and analysts at the time said that the struggling carrier would need to make expensive investments in its international infrastructure to remain competitive.

LATE UPDATE: The McCain campaign has now put out an ad of its own -- an implicit recognition that they see this as a particularly vulnerable issue.