Talk about political football.
Chrysler Group's two-minute Super Bowl ad is taking the heat from conservative commentators who claim the commercial is a veiled endorsement for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
The spot aired during halftime and features Dirty Harry himself talking up the Motor City's comeback and telling viewers the nation can learn from its tale.
"It's half time in America," actor and director Clint Eastwood says. "And our second half is about to begin."
A heated debate over its meaning erupted on blogs, news sites and Twitter shortly after the commercial aired Sunday night.
Karl Rove, a former advisor to President George W. Bush, pounced on the TV spot today on Fox News, saying he was "offended by it."
"It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics," he said. "The president of the United States and his political minions are in essence using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising."
The attacks prompted Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to respond this morning on WJR-AM radio in Detroit.
He stressed the ad had nothing to do with politics. He said it wasn't intended as a "political overture" and that Chrysler wasn't expressing a view or attempting to influence decisions.
Even so, Chrysler and General Motors may have to start getting used to the political spotlight, especially as the presidential election heats up.
Both companies were bailed out by the federal government in 2009 and the Obama administration is largely taking credit for the save. The U.S. government stills owns a sizable stake in GM.
Perhaps, this is only a sneak peek to what's to come as November approaches. Ready. Set. Hike.