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Eastwood Super Bowl ad for Chrysler turning into a political football

“Times when we didn’t understand each other … discord and blame …”

Clint Eastwood was reading from a script during this ad for Chrysler on Super Bowl Sunday, but the words also can describe the fallout over the ad. Which has, as pretty much everything does these days, taken on a life of its own as a political football.

Oh, and msnbc.com users said it was the best of the bunch during the Super Bowl.

The two-minute spot, which ran during halftime, has Eastwood discussing challenges faced by the country cut with images of an America seemingly fresh from a John Cougar Mellencamp video.  He compared the country’s struggles with that of Chrysler’s hometown of Detroit – which he said had fought back.

And here’s where party affiliation seems to have to always come in.

Chrysler declared bankruptcy, was bailed out by American and Canadian taxpayers, and sold off to Italy’s Fiat before, early this year, being able to declare it had made its first profit since 1997. So the automaker is an American comeback story, symptom of government run amok, or something in between depending on where you are on the political spectrum.

“I was, frankly, offended by it,” Karl Rove, strategist behind President George W. Bush’s two presidential campaigns, told Fox News this morning. “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.”

The opposing team, of course, had an opposing view.

“Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?” David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter.

Eastwood, for his part, told Fox News producer Ron Mitchell, "There is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain. l am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant to be a message about just job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK."

Eastwood opposed the bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors.

“It has zero political content,” Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told Detroit talk radio Monday morning. “The message is sufficiently universal and neutral that it should be appealing to everybody in this country and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t get utilized as political fodder in a debate.”

Too late. But that’s what happens when you put something on TV in 2012.

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