At Pittsburgh forum, Clinton vows to crack down on China

In earlier speech, Obama says Clinton's the one out of touch with voters

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled plans at a Downtown forum today to increase U.S. trade enforcement and crack down on Chinese trade practices.

Mrs. Clinton vowed to use the World Trade Organization to settle trade disputes, create a new intellectual property enforcement arm, and on China, to address currency manipulation and provide federal relief to manufacturers hurt by Chinese imports.

"It's time for president who won't ignore our problems and make them worse," but will "roll up her sleeves and address your problems," she told the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The labor-management group meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is largely concerned with unfair Chinese trade practices, which it says costs 15,640 Pennsylvania jobs per year.

"China should be a trade partner, not a trade master," she said.

Earlier. Sen. Barack Obama addressed the same group.

He began his remarks by greeting his "good friend" and Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, and later deflecting criticism of his remarks on "bitter" Pennsylvania voters.

"You know, there's been a lot of talk in this campaign lately about who's in touch with the workers of Pennsylvania. Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain seem to be singing from the same hymn book, saying that I'm "out of touch" -- an elitist -- because I said a lot of folks are bitter about their economic circumstances.

"Now it may be that I chose my words badly. And it's not the first time and it won't be the last. But when I hear my opponents, both of whom have spent decades in Washington, saying I'm out of touch, it's time to cut through their rhetoric and look at the reality," he told the group.

He then took a veiled shot at Mrs. Clinton, who was photographed doing a shot in bar over the weekend.

"Around election time, the candidates can't do enough -- they'll promise you anything, they'll give you a long list of proposals and even come around, with TV crews in tow, to throw back a shot and a beer," he said with a laugh.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a labor-management group composed of the United Steelworkers and steel manufacturers such as U.S. Steel. The group is largely concerned with Chinese trade practices that it holds accountable for the loss of 15,650 Pennsylvania jobs per year.

Mr. Obama talked about his roots working with steelworkers as a Chicago community organizer and plans to pressure China to regulate its currency. "America and the world can benefit from trade with China. But trade with China will only be good for you if China itself plays by the rules and acts as a positive force for balanced world growth," he said.

The Illinois senator said he has been a Steelers fan since he was 10 years old. He said they are a "favorite" team of his, though he has "to root for the Bears when those two teams are playing."

Despite that, the Steelers chairman released a letter endorsing Mr. Obama. "As a grandfather and a citizen of this community I think Barack Obama's thoughtful, strategic approach is important for America," the letter addressed to "fellow Pennsylvanians" said. "When I hear how excited young people seem to be when they talk about this man, I believe he will do what is best for them, which is to inspire them to be great Americans."

First Published April 14, 2008 2:15 PM


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