Florida Romney surrogates hit Obama on trade

Florida backers of Mitt Romney attacked President Obama on his trade record in a Friday morning conference call ahead of Obama's scheduled visit to the Port of Tampa.

Obama will stress the importance of trade with Central America in his speech, then head to Colombia for a trade summit. But Romney's campaign attacked him for not pushing new trade deals and for stalling the Colombian Free Trade Agreement, which he signed into law last year.

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Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said the bill had been delayed because Obama wanted to "satisfy his buddies."

"It's ironic that now this president is out there trying to take credit for something he frankly held back," he said.

Obama gave tepid support to the trade agreement after seeking some changes to the bill to ensure human-rights protections for workers and union leaders in Colombia, a country where in past decades dozens of union organizers have been murdered.

Diaz-Balart also criticized Obama for not taking a harder line with China. "One of the things to me that is really frustrating is President Obama's refusal to address the Chinese currency manipulation issue," he said, and argued that Obama "has been much better at creating jobs in communist China" than in the United States.

Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) said the Colombian trade treaty and others had been "held hostage" by Obama because he wanted to appease the unions. "This president has done nothing to create or promote creation of private-sector jobs," he said.

Shortly after the call, the Romney campaign released a statement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) that said Obama's "recent decision to focus on trade ... comes three years too late" and argued that Obama's "trade inaction and political calculations are part of a broader pattern of economic failures for this president."