Obama ridicules Romney over China tough talk

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With the latest polls giving him an edge in the must-win state of Ohio, President Obama exuded confidence during a trip to the northern part of the state Wednesday, accusing Mitt Romney of wanting to “stick it to the middle class” and calling his tough talk on China “just not credible.”

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney on Wednesday were on the hunt for votes in Ohio, where the manufacturing jobs in the automobile industry and other sectors have been particularly hard hit in recent years as companies have shifted more jobs overseas to China.

Displaying some swagger while warming up the crowd at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, Mr. Obama told a joke about the NFL needing to get back to its regular referees and offered some light talk about the Democratic convention and first lady Michelle’s speech there.

At one point, he even told the crowd to make sure to bend their knees, because people have been known to faint during his speeches. Realizing that sounded overly cocky, he quickly added, “not because I’m so exciting, but just because you’ve been standing a long time.”

But it wasn’t long before the jocularity subsided and Mr. Obama started lashing away at Mr. Romney for profiting from investments in Chinese companies.

“He says he’s gong to take the fight to them,” Mr. Obama said of his Republican rival. “That message is better than what he’s actually done about this thing. It sounds better than talking about all the years he spent profiting from companies that sent our jobs to China.”

He went on to ridicule Mr. Romney for his “newfound outrage” over the disparity in U.S.-China trade.

“When you see these ads he’s running promising to get tough on China, it feels a lot like that fox saying, ‘You know, we need more secure chicken coops,” he said to laughter. “I mean, it’s just not credible.”

Mr. Obama was referring to Mr. Romney’s $75,000 investment in Cnooc Ltd., the Chinese state-owned oil company, which was revealed when former Massachusetts governor released his 2011 tax return last week. Mr. Romney’s blind trust purchased the shares then dumped them, Mr. Obama charges, when he decided he was going to start talking tough on China.

In the last week, Mr. Obama has repeatedly attacked Mr. Romney for the Cnooc investment, even after a report in Buzzfeed pointing out that the White House had previously cited the ties between the company and an Ohio energy firm as benefiting the development of carbon capture and storage in both countries.

Earlier in the day, at a stop in Westerville, Ohio, Mr. Romney pledged to crack down on China.

“They’ve stolen our jobs — that’s gotta stop,” he said.

But Mr. Obama argued that his administration has brought more trade cases against China in one term than the previous administration did in two.

“I’m not just talking the talk,” he said, adding, “and, by the way, we’ve been winning those cases.”

The president also touted his decision to place a tariff on Chinese tires in 2001, which Mr. Romney opposed.

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