- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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.

“We’ve got over 1,000 workers back to work producing American tires,” he said. “If you want to know who’s going to actually fight for workers and fight for American jobs, you can look at that record.”

The Romney campaign said the tariff was ineffective and only served to increase tire costs for American consumers.

“The president’s decision to let China cheat has cost the nation hundreds of thousands of jobs and his misguided tire tariffs have cost thousands more,” said Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “Americans simply can’t afford four more years like the last four years.”

He also repeated what has become his campaign refrain during stops in Ohio — that he supported the auto bailout while Mr. Romney opposed it. The auto industry supports one in eight Ohio jobs and businesses in 82 out of 88 counties.

The latest Quinniapiac/CBS/New York Times poll has Mr. Obama with a 10-point lead in Ohio, topping Mr. Romney 53 to 43 percent, while an average of recent polls on realclearpolitics.com has the president up an average of 5 points.

Ohio has early voting beginning on Oct. 2 and both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have ramped up campaigning in the state in recent weeks. Mr. Obama was just in Ohio last week and planned one more speech Wednesday evening at Kent State the same day Mr. Romney made three stops in Ohio on a bus tour.

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