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Edward Niedermeyer

Clinton and Trump Spin Their Wheels on Auto Jobs

Fulminating about traitorous companies, candidates miss the real targets.
Production line.

Production line.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Presidential front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both seem to sense that there are political points to be scored in fulminating about the auto industry. But both have swung wide of the mark in trying to capitalize on it.

For example, ever since the auto supplier Johnson Controls announced it would merge with Tyco in a tax-reducing "inversion," Clinton has pounded the firm with a thesaurus' worth of pejoratives, claiming it is turning its back on America after receiving a government bailout. This week, the company angrily denied receiving bailout money in a Detroit Free Press commentary, prompting Clinton's camp to clarify that it had merely lobbied for the bailout, quite a different thing than actually receiving funds. And while she lost the Michigan primary to Bernie Sanders, whom she had accused of insufficiently supporting the Detroit bailout, she has since ramped up her effort tap into populist sentiment around manufacturing jobs and the auto industry.