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Jeep, an Obama favorite, looks to shift production to China

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

In another potential blow for the president's Ohio reelection campaign, Jeep, the rugged brand President Obama once said symbolized American freedom, is considering giving up on the United States and shifting production to China.

Such a move would crash the economy in towns like Toledo, Ohio, where Jeeps are made and supplied, and rob the community of the economic security they thought Obama's auto bailout assured them.

Obama is such a fan of Jeep that he included a picture of himself speaking at the Toledo plant in his newly released second term agenda binder. In his address to the plant in 2011, Obama said, "I just took a short tour of the plant and watched some of you putting the finishing touches on the Wrangler. Now, as somebody reminded, I need to call it the 'iconic' Wrangler. And that's appropriate because when you think about what Wrangler has always symbolized. It symbolized freedom, adventure, hitting the open road, never looking back."

Well it appears that the taxpayer bailed-out Chrysler is looking back and now considering cutting costs by shifting production of all Jeeps to China, which has a strong desire for Jeeps.

In a Bloomberg interview, Jeep's president said the automaker plans to restore Jeep production in China, suspended in 2009, and is considering making all Jeeps in China. "Fiat SpA, majority owner of Chrysler Group LLC, plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in that country, according to the head of both automakers' operations in the region," reported the business wire service.

Mike Manley, chief operating officer of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia and president of the Jeep brand, told Bloomberg, "We're reviewing the opportunities within existing capacity" as well as "should we be localizing the entire Jeep portfolio or some of the Jeep portfolio" to China.

Chrysler builds Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley said the firm is in talks with China's Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.