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Published: Monday, 9/17/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Obama will use Ohio appearances to challenge Romney's China trade policy

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion, Monday in Cincinnati. President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion, Monday in Cincinnati.

CINCINNATI -- President Obama announced a new trade challenge to China on auto parts manufacturing and lampooned Republican plans for passing new tax cuts in a rally with supporters in an outdoor amphitheater here today.

Mr. Obama said his administration has brought more trade cases against China in one term than his predecessor did in two, and accused Republican Mitt Romney of talking tough on unfair China trade just for election year politics.

"My opponent has been running around Ohio claiming he's going to roll up his sleeves and take the fight to China. 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," Mr. Obama said, touching on a sore point with the Romney campaign.

"He made money investing in companies that uprooted here and went to China. You can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs," the President said.

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The President's attack on Mr. Romney as profiting from job outsourcing is based on a June Washington Post article that reported that Mr. Romney's former company, Bain Capital, invested in companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping American work overseas.

The Romney campaign has attacked the story as misleading, saying Bain didn't send American jobs overseas under Romney's leadership.

Mr. Obama appeared to be enjoying himself with the crowd of 4,500, as reported by the Obama campaign. He accused Republicans of having only one solution to everything: tax cuts.

"Cut a few regulations and then let's try some more tax cuts. Tax cuts in good times, tax cuts in bad times, tax cuts when we're at peace, tax cuts when we're at war," Mr. Obama said. "You want to make a restaurant reservation or book a flight? You don't need the new iPhone. Try a tax cut."

President Obama speaks at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion in Cincinnati. The President challenged Mitt Romney's China trade policy. President Obama speaks at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion in Cincinnati. The President challenged Mitt Romney's China trade policy.

He said Republicans want to cut taxes equal to the size of the entire Defense budget every year, "but they won't tell you how they're going to pay for it.

"They can't pay for it without raising taxes on middle class families," he asserted, adding that he has reduced taxes on middle-class families.

He said he's willing to work with Republicans any way he can to cut the 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 said.

Mr. Obama spoke in Cincinnati's open-air Eden Park amphitheater and was to move on to campaign in Columbus. Both campaigns are targeting the Buckeye State, whose 18 electoral votes are seen as crucial in the Nov. 6 election.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) spoke at the Statehouse in Columbus today on behalf of Mr. Romney.

Mr. Obama said his plans for the next term involve hiring an additional 100,000 math and science teachers, retraining 2 million workers, investing in energy, including clean coal and natural gas, and creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs.

Unfair China trade is a focus for both campaigns. In northeast Ohio Friday, Mr. Romney pledged to stop China from artificially manipulating their currency, which makes Chinese exports cheaper.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Romney criticized his administration when it went after China over a "surge" in imported tires, but it successfully saved 1,000 American jobs.

The Obama administration's trade representative announced today that it was filing a new case accusing China of illegally subsidizing exports in their autos 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 in Toledo. That case centered on "unfair imposition" of duties on more than $3 billion in exports of U.S.-made automobiles to China.

The Romney campaign says the President's enforcement efforts against China are too little too late.

"President Obama has spent 43 months failing to confront China's unfair trade practices," said Mr. Romney, according to a prepared 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," Mr. Romney said, according to his statement.

The auto manufacturing industry directly employs over 770,000 people in the United States, with roughly 475,000 of these jobs in auto parts manufacturing.

And it's a significant chunk of the economy in Ohio, which has the second-highest number of auto industry jobs in the country, after Michigan.

In Ohio, the auto-parts industry directly employs 54,200 people. According to the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research nearly 850,000 jobs or 12.4 percent of the state's total employment is connected to the auto industry.

The White House said China's illegal subsidies to auto and auto-parts exporters amounted to at least $1 billion between 2009 and 2011.

Government statistics show that employment in the U.S. auto-parts sector fell by roughly half from 2001 to 2010. In that same time, imports of auto parts from China increased sevenfold, and the Chinese share of auto parts imports to the U.S. increased from 2 percent to 10 percent, the White House said.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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