September 17th, 2012
02:32 PM ET
Cincinnati, OH (CNN) – The presidential campaign took on an international tone on Monday with both sides criticizing the other’s record on trade relations with China.
Just hours after the Romney campaign released a new ad promising to “crack down on cheaters like China,” President Obama announced at an outdoor rally here that his administration is launching a new enforcement action against China with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for providing illegal subsidies on automotive exports.
Although the administration claims this complaint has been in the works for some time, with one out of every eight Ohio jobs tied to the auto industry, Monday’s announcement gave the president a nice rallying cry for his two-stop visit to the Buckeye State. During his 12 visits to the state so far this year, the president has frequently touted his role in keeping the industry afloat as a major contributor to Ohio’s resurgent economy.
During his remarks, the president took the opportunity to remind voters that back in 2009 Mitt Romney opposed the auto bailout. Mr. Obama also tried to make the case that during his time in the private sector, Romney took advantage of some of the same trading practices he now decries.
“He has been running around Ohio claiming he is going to roll up his sleeves and he is going to take the fight to China,” Obama said. “Here’s the thing, his experience has been owning companies that have been called pioneers in outsourcing jobs to countries like China. He made money investing in companies that uprooted from here and went to China. Pioneers! Now Ohio, you can’t stand up to China when all you have done is sent them our jobs. You can talk a good game but I like to walk the walk not just talk the talk.”
The substance of the president’s announcement broke late Sunday night, and in response Mitt Romney released a statement early Monday morning dismissing the new WTO complaint as nothing more than politics.
“President Obama has spent 43 months failing to confront China's unfair trade practices,” Romney said in the statement. “Campaign-season trade cases may sound good on the stump, but it is too little, too late for American businesses and middle-class families. President Obama’s credibility on this issue has long since vanished.”