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Can Chrysler be persuaded to keep its Kenosha engine plant running?

Congresswoman Gwen Moore is not sure if Chrysler can be persuaded to keep its Kenosha engine plant running beyond next fall.

That's what the Milwaukee Democrat said Thursday after she and three other Wisconsin lawmakers met with Chrysler's deputy CEO, Jim Press.

The pessimism followed a slight ray of hope in recent weeks.

Chrysler's new owner, Fiat, took out an option to buy the Kenosha plant that's good through July.

Fiat representatives inspected the Kenosha plant and met with employees. And when a two-month bankruptcy layoff ends June 29, the plant's union chief says his shop will be on a three-week audition to convince Fiat that its labor force is solid and worthwhile.

But Thursday, Moore said Chrysler gave her no reason to believe it's putting any effort to keeping Kenosha open.

Moore, House Republican Paul Ryan, and Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold said they're angered that Chrysler is basically moving jobs to Mexico, despite the years of productive service made by the Kenosha employees.

When Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April, it said it would close Kenosha next October and cut 800 jobs while adding an extra engine plant in Mexico.

The meeting also explored funding options to keep Kenosha open, as well as the chance it would produce engines for the CNH Global tractor plant in Racine, which is mainly owned by Fiat.