China is a long way from Ohio, but it's currently at the center of the presidential campaign in Ohio, with both the Obama and Romney camps airing TV ads accusing the other of being weak on trade with China.
The Obama for America campaign Tuesday unveiled the President's latest TV commercial, "Revealed," which claims to expose presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a "jobs outsourcer."
The ad is based on a news report from last week alleging that Mr. Romney has a record of sending jobs to China through his former investment firm, Bain Capital, and during his term as governor of Massachusetts, 2003-07.
The Washington Post report said that during the nearly 15 years that Mr. Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
"Romney's never stood up to China. All he's done is send them our jobs," the ad, starting this week in Ohio, states.
The Romney campaign fired back that the Obama campaign is misleading viewers and voters. It said the overseas jobs cited in the Post report were created to support export operations, not to outsource domestic jobs.
Last week, the Romney campaign rolled out its own China-related ad, based on what Mr. Romney would do in his first 100 days as president. "Day One, President Romney stands up to China, demands a level playing field for our businesses and workers," the ad's narrator says.
Competition from China is a staple of recent campaigns. In 2010, Lee Fisher, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Ohio, accused Republican Rob Portman, a former U.S. trade representative, of supporting policies that shipped American jobs to China.
Mr. Portman won the election and is now considered a leading prospect to be Mr. Romney's vice-presidential running mate.
The shoe went on the other foot, politically, this year when Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel accused the incumbent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, of supporting policies that encouraged entrepreneurs to set up shop "in places like China." That attack brought outrage from the Brown campaign, which said opposition to looser trade relations with China is one of Mr. Brown's signature issues.
In a campaign appearance at North Toledo fence post manufacturer American Posts in February, Mr. Romney said China is "cheating" by manipulating its currency to keep the price of its products artificially low.
Ben LaBolt, national press secretary for the Obama campaign, said Mr. Romney and Bain Capital were "pioneers in outsourcing American jobs, investing in companies that specialized in sending jobs done by U.S. workers to facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.
"If Mitt Romney was really going to stand up to China on Day One it would be the first day in his life," he added.
Contact Tom Troy at: email@example.com or 419-724-6058.