Is this just a business seeing a competitive edge against two of its rivals — or a political statement meant for wider purposes? Ford has a new ad series called “Press Conference,” in which sales staff escort a Ford buyer into a room supposedly to finalize paperwork but finds “reporters” and cameras on hand to ask why he or she bought a Ford. The responses are unscripted, according to US News and World Report, but the decision to publish this response while the nation still debates the auto bailouts might have some Obama supporters questioning the timing:

In its most political ad in the so-called “Drive One” ads where real drivers are thrust before cameras to explain why they picked Ford, a real Ford F-150 pick-up driver is featured.

His name is Chris. After he sits down the “reporters” bark “Chris, Chris.” One asks him to explain why “was buying American important to you.”

Sitting and looking sincere and serious, Chris says: “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government. I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own: win, lose, or draw. That’s what America is about is taking the chance to succeed and understanding when you fail that you gotta’ pick yourself up and go back to work. Ford is that company for me.”

It’s brilliant in terms of distancing Ford from the anger taxpayers (and potential buyers) feel over the bailouts of Ford rivals GM and Chrysler.  After all, taxpayers will end up losing about $14 billion for their trouble, and a lot of investors got screwed in the politically-manipulated bankruptcy proceedings for both companies.  Any competitive edge helps, of course, and this is a natural argument — so much so that it’s curious that Ford hasn’t really pressed that point until now.

But it also feels like something more than just a sales pitch, too.  The statement that America is about taking risks and enduring failure rather than expecting government to bail everyone out sounds more like a big thumb in the eye of the Obama administration, whose latest jobs bill keeps extending unemployment benefits, and which continues to propose spending billions on subsidies for businesses that can’t succeed on their own — like Solyndra.

Update: I changed the headline, because this isn’t a new ad — it just started capturing attention, thanks to USNWR.  However, the star of the ad does have a new video posted today, which emphasizes what he told the “reporters” in the ad: