Obama, Romney spar over China policy

He tagged Romney again for his former company, Bain Capital, investing in firms that have been called "pioneers of outsourcing."

The White House has filed twice as many cases against unfair trading practices than the previous administration and set up a new task force to go "after anybody who is taking advantage of American workers or businesses and not creating a level playing field," Obama said. 

"When I said that we had to make sure that China was not flooding our domestic market with cheap tires, Gov. Romney said I was being protectionist, that it wouldn't be helpful to American workers," Obama said. 

"Well, in fact we saved 1,000 jobs. And that's the kind of tough trade actions that are required."

Romney then argued that the U.S. has been shedding manufacturing jobs, ultimately making China the "largest manufacturer in the world." 

"It used to be the United States of America. A lot of good people have lost jobs. A half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last four years."

He vowed again to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office, and possibly tack on tariffs. 

"China has been a currency manipulator for years and years and years. And the president has a regular opportunity to label them as a currency manipulator, but refuses to do so."

But Obama countered that China's currency has increased in value by 11 percent during his presidency "because we have pushed them hard."

"We've put unprecedented trade pressure on China. That's why exports have significantly increased under my presidency. That's going to help to create jobs here," Obama said. 

The president reiterated that he wants to end tax breaks that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China or that allow them to forego U.S. taxes, whereas Romney wants to expand those taxes, Obama said. 

"One of his big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, if you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don't have to pay U.S. taxes," the president said. 

"But, of course, if you're a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you've got to pay even the reduced rate that Gov. Romney's talking about.

"And it's estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. The problem is they'll be in china. Or India. Or Germany."

Obama said the key to producing more jobs at home is to double exports, a goal he said the administration is expected to his in 2014. 

"That's why we've kept on pushing trade deals, but trade deals that make sure that American workers and American businesses are getting a good deal.