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Obama in Ohio: Why is he swiping at Mitt Romney over ... China? (+video)

Bashing China plays big in this crucial battleground state. Obama claims that Mitt Romney, as a businessman, sent US jobs to China. Romney counters that Obama, as president, waited until the election to stand up to China on unfair trade practices.

By Staff writer / September 17, 2012

President Obama points to the crowd as he leaves a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion on Monday in Cincinnati.

Carolyn Kaster/AP


President Obama spent Monday reaching out to voters in a key swing state, hitting home the message that he's prepared to fight China over what many in Ohio see as unfair trade tactics.

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"My opponent has been running around Ohio claiming he's going to roll up his sleeves and he's going to take the fight to China," Mr. Obama told a crowd of Ohioans at a rally in Cincinnati. "You can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs."

Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been trading swipes on the stump and in advertisements over China lately, each trying to convince voters that the other is all talk.

On Monday, Obama underscored his message by filing suit with the World Trade Organization against China for unfair trade practices. In the suit – the second one against China that Obama has filed recently – the US charges that China is unfairly subsidizing its cars and auto parts for export. 

"Many people [in Ohio] come out of that tradition and context where heavy manufacturing was important and are very sensitive to ... where manufacturing has moved jobs overseas," says Paul Beck, a political scientist at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Ohio, along with Virginia and Florida, is considered one of the most critical battleground states for both campaigns, and no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.

While Obama talks up his trade policy and actions against Romney, his opponent has fired back, claiming that Obama's criticism of China now is all political, and that he's failed to act to help American manufacturers during his presidency. 

"Campaign-season trade cases may sound good on the stump, but it is too little, too late for American businesses and middle-class families," Romney said in a statement. "I will not wait until the last months of my presidency to stand up to China, or do so only when votes are at stake. From day one, I will pursue a comprehensive strategy to confront China's unfair trade practices and ensure a level playing field where our businesses can compete and win."

His campaign also played up the loss of jobs that has occurred during Obama's tenure.

"American manufacturing is struggling in the Obama economy," said Amanda Henneberg, a Romney campaign spokeswoman. "The president's misguided, ineffective policies have hampered the private sector and allowed China to flaunt the rules while middle-class families suffer."


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