Chrysler's two-minute Super Bowl ad narrated by Clint Eastwood has become politicized.
"It's halftime. Both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half," says Eastwood in his singular voice. "It's halftime in America, too. People are out of work and they're hurting and they're all wondering what they're going to do to make a comeback and we're all scared because this isn't a game. The people of Detroit know a little something about this," Eastwood says in the ad, before touting Detroit's comeback.
President Barack Obama's senior campaign adviser David Axelrod immediately praised the ad as a "powerful spot" on Twitter, and White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted, "Saving the America Auto Industry: Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on."
Former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove blasted the ad Monday on Fox News. "I was, frankly, offended by it," he said. "I'm a huge fan of Clint Eastwood, I thought it was an extremely well-done ad, but it is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the President of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising and the best-wishes of the management which is benefited by getting a bunch of our money that they'll never pay back."
Chrysler, like General Motors, was aided by government loans made under the Bush and Obama administrations in 2008 and 2009. Taxpayers lost up to $1.3 billion lent to Chrysler, and the government no longer owns a stake in the company.
Chrysler had hoped the ad would not become politicized. "It has zero political content," said Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne Monday. "It was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part. We are as apolitical as you can make us...I wasn't expressing a view and certainly nobody inside Chrysler was attempting to influence decisions."
Clint Eastwood isn't particularly partisan, either -- he identifies as a libertarian. He served as nonpartisan mayor of Carmel, Calif., for two years. He supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election but has said he no longer identifies with the GOP and doesn't know who he's voting for in 2012. He has also brushed off critics who read political messages into his films.
Though conservatives have criticized the ad for supporting the auto bailout, Eastwood himself did not support it.