COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Campaigning in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, President Barack Obama on Monday accused his Republican challenger of talking the talk on trade policy with China, while his administration was walking the walk.
At separate events in a Cincinnati amphitheater and at a Columbus park, Mr. Obama announced a new trade complaint filed against China on auto-parts manufacturing and again lampooned Mitt Romney's plans to pursue more tax cuts.
"When it comes to trade, I understand my opponent's been running around Ohio claiming he's going to take the fight to China," Mr. Obama said before an estimated crowd of 4,500 in Columbus. "This is the guy whose experience has been owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing jobs to countries like China, made money investing in companies shipping jobs to China," he said.
"Ohio," the president declared, "you can't stand up to China if all you've done is send them our jobs. You can talk a good game seven weeks before an election, but you can't just talk the talk. You've got to walk the walk."
China trade policy is a focus for both campaigns in a battleground state considered critical to winning the White House. Ohioans will begin to cast ballots Oct. 2.
Mr. Romney's first Ohio campaign stop, in 2011, focused on the China issue, and, on Friday in northeast Ohio, he again argued that the White House has been soft in its efforts to stop China from artificially manipulating its currency to make its exports cheaper than U.S. goods.
Mr. Obama countered Monday that his administration has brought more World Trade Organization cases against China in one term than his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, did in two.
His attack on Mr. Romney's outsourcing is based on a Washington Post article in June reporting that the company the Republican candidate formerly ran, Bain Capital, invested in companies that helped to inaugurate the practice of shipping American work overseas. Mr. Romney has countered that Bain didn't send U.S. jobs overseas while he was at the helm.
The Obama administration's trade representative announced Monday a new case filing that accuses China of illegally subsidizing exports in its auto and auto-parts sectors. It also said the administration was taking new steps to press a case it announced in July, when Mr. Obama was campaigning in the Toledo area, that centers on "unfair imposition" of duties on more than $3 billion in U.S.-made auto exports to China.
Mr. Obama's latest visit to Ohio, his 12th this year, coincided with the launch of a new ad touting his administration's prior action to challenge the China's flooding the market with cheap tires, a move the administration said protected 1,000 U.S. jobs, although it has been criticized his GOP rival.
Rallying for Mr. Romney at the Statehouse in Columbus at roughly the same time Mr. Obama was in the city, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., connected the China trade issue with the nation's economic woes. "He's finally getting around to doing something about currency manipulation in China," he said. "Elections are funny like that. They get people to do stuff they should have done 31/2 years ago.
"But there's something he still hasn't done, and that's deal with the national debt," Mr. Rubio said. "Anytime you talk about China, you're reminded of the national debt. I think the connection we have to make is the national debt isn't just about money we owe; it's about the economy that isn't growing because of it."
In Cincinnati, Mr. Obama noted that he has reduced taxes on middle-class families and said he was willing to work with Republicans in any way he could to cut the budget deficit. "If the Republicans need more love, if they want me to walk their dog, wash their car, I'm happy to do it," Mr. Obama joked.
Ohio State University student Jenica Money, 21, said the president's message that it will take years more to recover from the recession, and that tough decisions still lie ahead, resonates even with people her age. "I don't think that anything is accomplished by sugar-coating anything," she said. "I really appreciate how Obama addresses the real issues in our country. Obviously, they're there. It's not something that you can just ignore or push to the aside. ... I think people our age want the truth."
Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. Tom Troy and Jim Provance are reporters for The Blade.