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COLUMBUS — Campaigning in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, President Barack Obama Monday accused his Republican opponent of talking the talk on trade policy with China while the Obama administration was walking the walk.
At separate events in a Cincinnati amphitheater and Columbus park, Mr. Obama announced a new trade challenge to China on auto-parts manufacturing and again lampooned Republican challenger 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 a Columbus park.
“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, 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.”
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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 on Oct. 2.
Mr. Romney’s first Ohio campaign stop in 2011 for this election focused on China, and, in northeast Ohio on Friday, he again argued that the White House has been soft when it comes to stopping China from artificially manipulating their currency to make Chinese exports cheaper than American goods.
Mr. Obama countered Monday that his administration has brought more cases against China in one term than Republican predecessor George W. Bush did in two.
His attack on Mr. Romney on 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. Mr. Romney has argued that Bain didn’t send American jobs overseas while he was at the company’s helm.
The Obama administration’s trade representative announced Monday 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 the Toledo area that centers on “unfair imposition” of duties on more than $3 billion in exports of U.S.-made automobiles to China.
After his speech and a brief fund-raiser at the Columbus park, Mr. Obama stopped a labor convention on his way out of town where he again brought up the trade action.
His 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 flooding of the market with cheap tires from China, a move the administration said protected 1,000 U.S. jobs and was criticized by Mr. Romney.
Rallying for Mr. Romney at the Statehouse at roughly the same time Mr. Obama was in Columbus, U.S. 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,” Mr. Rubio said. “Elections are funny like that. They get people to do stuff they should have done three and a half years ago.
“But there’s something he still hasn’t done, and that’s deal with the national debt,” he 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.”
Mr. Obama seemed to enjoy himself at both of his Ohio events as 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,” he said in Cincinnati. “You want to make a restaurant reservation or book a flight? You don’t need the new iPhone. Try a tax cut.”
He noted that he has reduced taxes on middle-class families and said he’s willing to work with Republicans in any way he can 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 in Cincinnati.
After pushing his plan to recruit more science and math teachers, he suggested Mr. Romney could use a math class of his own.
“I got to say my opponent does have his own plan, but it’s missing one thing — arithmetic,” he said. “It doesn’t add up…You say you want to reduce the deficit. So what’s your first plan? You’re going to spend $5 trillion for tax cuts…$5 trillion over 10 years.
“That’s $500 billion a year, right? I think my math is right,” he said. “Now $500 billion, that’s how much we spend on the defense department, our entire military. So he’s gonna give a tax cut — mostly going to wealthy folks like me and Mr. Romney, a $250,000 tax break for people making $3 million a year or more — and it’s going to cost us $5 trillion on top of the Bush tax cuts. Now, they must have skipped math class when they were little.”
Jenica Money, a 21-year-old Ohio State University student, 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.”
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