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White House driven to deny a role in Eastwood car ad

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The White House is denying any advance knowledge of or involvement in a gritty Super Bowl ad starring Clint Eastwood that played up the auto industry's resurgence and called on the nation to come together and rebuild - a message taken in some quarters as an implicit endorsement of President Obama.

"It was news to me when I saw it," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday, referring to the halftime Chrysler ad with the actor's familiar rough-hewn voice, which heralded the car industry's comeback. Mr. Eastwood played a heroic former Detroit autoworker in the 2008 film "Gran Torino."

The spot has spurred comparisons to an Obama re-election campaign video, especially considering the president's recent series of events celebrating the rebound of Chrysler and General Motors in the wake of a federal bailout. The ad also seemed to suggest that Mr. Obama is only halfway through his tenure at the White House.

"It's halftime. Both teams are in their locker rooms discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half," Mr. Eastwood intones. "It's halftime in America, too ... Detroit's showing us it can be done ... This country can't be knocked out with one punch. ... Yeah, it's halftime in America, and our second half is about to begin."

"Powerful spot," David Axelrod, Obama's chief political strategist, said Sunday night on Twitter. "Did Clint Eastwood shoot that, or just narrate it?"

While Mr. Carney would not say whether he liked the ad, he did use the opportunity to take credit for the car industry's renewed success.

The ad "does point out a simple fact, which is that the automobile industry was on its back and potentially poised to liquidate three years ago and the president made decisions that were not very popular at the time," Mr. Carney said.

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