By Alicia M. Cohn - 09/26/12 06:06 PM EDT
Mitt Romney talking tough on China is “a lot like that fox saying, 'you know, we need more secure chicken coops,’ ” President Obama charged on Wednesday.
“I understand my opponent has been spending some time in Ohio lately and he's been talking tough on China,” Obama said at a campaign stop at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “He says he's going to take the fight to them, he's going to go after these cheaters.”
The Romney campaign has pushed back on Obama's allegations of outsourcing jobs. Romney has promised to declare China a "currency manipulator."
Both presidential candidates were in Ohio on Wednesday, with Obama campaigning in Bowling Green and Kent and Romney in Westerville, Bedford Heights and Toledo. The message on China particularly resonates in Ohio, a key swing state in the election, where a sizable segment of the population has factory and automobile manufacturing jobs.
Obama has touted his decision to impose a tariff on Chinese tires early in his presidency as a means to save those type of jobs.
“If you wanna know who's going to actually fight for workers, fight for American jobs when it comes to trade, you can look at the records,” Obama said. “See who said what before election time. … I'm not just talking the talk.”
Romney's campaign argues Obama's actions have failed and called the tire tariff a "misguided" move that did not address the real problem of unfair trade policies.
"President Obama has refused to call China a currency manipulator, while
the actions he touts have failed, expired, or been described as mere
‘peanuts’ by trade analysts," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.
"Only one candidate in this race will end China’s cheating on trade and
that’s Mitt Romney.”
Obama on Wednesday also hit Romney on recent comments that “47 percent” of Americans was "dependent" on government, remarks taped during a private fundraiser that the Obama campaign has called dismissive of half the country.
“I don’t believe we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as victims,” Obama said on Wednesday. “I don't see a lot of victims. I see hard working Ohioans.”
He said Romney got “excited” when Obama said recently that he learned the lesson during his first term that he can’t change Washington from the inside.
"He went from the president of change to the president who can't get change," Romney said last week. And he promised he could get the job done as president.
Obama confronted Romney on the issue directly.
“[Romney] said, 'I'm going to get the job done from the inside.' And I'm thinking to myself, ‘Well what kind of inside job is he talking about? Is he talking about the inside job to rubber stamp the agenda of this Republican Congress?” Obama fired back.
Obama hammered on the theme, saying “with the way our democracy works, we're never going to get everything we individually want.”
But, he said, “you can't make it happen if you write off half the nation before you take office.”
“I don't know how many votes I’ll get in Ohio this time around, but I want everybody to understand … I’m fighting for you,” Obama said. “I'm not fighting to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs. I'm fighting to create American jobs.”
Obama went through his “five-point plan” for job growth “just in case you missed the convention.” He also hit Romney for failing to explain specifics of his policies or how his “trickle down” economics would work.
“They think if we spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts that favor the wealthiest, the deficit will magically go away,” he charged.
Obama urged the mostly college-aged crowd to vote early, starting in six days in Ohio. He noted that they have “no excuses” not to register and vote, in comparison to the college student who put off getting a broken wrist set in order to introduce the president.
“He's going to have to go to the hospital afterwards to get his wrist set,” Obama said, noting at the top of his speech that the wrist was broken while playing ultimate Frisbee.
“It is clear replacement refs were in the game,” he joked, a reference to recent controversy over replacement referees due to the NFL lockout.
Updated at 3 p.m.