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GM and Chrysler ban Presidential campaign visits

General Motors and the Chrysler Group have both banned visits at any of their facilities by either of the Presidential hopefuls until after the election on November 6th in an effort to keep their company name from being involved in either of the campaign trails.

This means that between now and Tuesday, November 6th 2012 neither President Barack Hussein Obama nor former Massachusetts governor/current Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney are permitted to visit any of the Chrysler Group or General Motors facilities around the country as a leg of their campaign trail. We can assume that any independent Presidential hopefuls are also prohibited from visiting any GM or Chrysler plants as well – should one come into the public eye over the next few months. Even though both main players in the Presidential race would likely want to make a visit to any of various plants belonging to both General Motors and the Chrysler Group – it won’t happen.

There are a variety of reasons why this decision makes sense but in the case of both automakers – it starts at the consumer level as General Motors and the Chrysler Group both sell cars to consumers who could vote for any of the 2012 Presidential hopefuls. Should one of the automakers seemingly show preference to one candidate or another by having them visit a facility – it could turn off consumers to the brands under those corporate banners.

While this doesn’t come as a huge surprise, some Americans are surprised by the fact that General Motors can block the President from visiting a plant during his campaign considering that the US Government still owns 32% of the company. President Obama has repeatedly taken credit for the success of the “bailout loans” but GM CEO Dan Akerson has pointed out in the past that the first steps towards the government’s help of both GM and the Chrysler Group began during the second term of President George W. Bush. President Obama would certainly like to visit the GM plants to show how his part in the bailout has helped GM survive but General Motors isn’t going to let that happen. Another key concern of GM is to shed the nickname of “Government Motors” – and becoming a focus of the Presidential race will certainly bring up those same comments from those who oppose the bailout loans.

It comes as less of a surprise that the Chrysler Group does not want to be used as a political boxing ring between Obama and Romney but each of the candidates likely would have wanted their shot to speak at Chrysler facilities. The Chrysler Group also benefitted from the bailout loans issued under President Obama but unlike GM, Chrysler is out of the hole and free of government control. Because of that, President Obama could use Chrysler facilities to show how well the bailout loans worked as through the purchase by Fiat SpA – the American public isn’t left holding a bill like they are with GM.

Due to Mitt Romney’s opinions in the past about the support of the Detroit automakers, he probably would have been less likely to focus on the bailouts so this announcement from Chrysler and GM seems like more of a hit to President Obama – who will make the success of the bailout loans a major piece of his campaign trail.

While President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney will not be allowed in any Chrysler or GM facilities until after the November 6th election, we can still expect areas around those plants (especially in Michigan and Ohio) to be key battlegrounds for the 2012 Presidential election.