In a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio Monday afternoon, Preside Obama answered Mitt Romney’s criticism of his trade policies toward China by vaunting his administration’s efforts to curb abuses and attacking Romney’s record of outsourcing jobs to the world’s second largest economy.
“Now, I understand my opponent has been running around Ohio claiming he’s going to roll up his sleeves and take the fight to China,” the president said. “But here’s the thing: his experience has been owning companies that were called ‘pioneers’ in the business of outsourcing jobs to countries like China. Pioneers! Ohio, you can’t stand up to China when all you’ve done is send them our jobs.”
The president was referencing a report on Bain Capital’s investment in outsourcing pioneers that appeared in the Washington Post in June. Romney’s campaign asked the paper to retract the story, but the editors refused.
Romney has promised to name China a currency manipulator for months, garnering the criticism of his primary opponent and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. “You can get an applause line by saying that you’re going to go to war with China, that you’re going to slap a tariff, without remembering that you’ve got … a host of issues that are all part of the U.S.-China relationship,” candidate Huntsman said in November of 2011. “And a trade war would grind it all to a halt, all the while killing small business and exporters in this country, and I don’t want that done.”
Trade with China is a hot issue in the crucial swing state of Ohio. According to the pollster Zogby, 56% of Ohioans believe “Americans should boycott China products because of China’s unfair trade practices and human rights abuses.” No Republican has ever been elected president without winning the Buckeye state.
Romney’s rhetoric differs vastly from his record as a businessman. “When Romney was in charge of Bain Capital, for example, the firm invested millions in a company that manufactured household appliances using cheaper labor in Dongguan, China,” the Boston Globe reported Saturday.
The Obama Administration has been far more aggressive pushing back against China’s trade abuses than the Bush Administration. Monday morning, the United States filed a grievance against China at the World Trade Organization for unfairly subsidizing sales of exported cars and car parts — the ninth such case the president has brought to the WTO.
“Those subsidies directly harm working men and women on the assembly line in Ohio and Michigan and across the Midwest. It’s not right; it’s against the rules; and we will not let it stand,” the president said, in his speech.
As the Romney campaign seeks to relaunch its message with more “specifics,” the president seemed both aggressive and playful as he rebutted of Romney’s attacks. At one point he joked, “I’ve actually done my own taxes. I don’t know about some of these other folks but I’ve done them.”
Video from Obama’s speech is below: