Mitt Romney said the U.S. and China are in a trade war at Saturday night's GOP debate in South Carolina and reiterated his calls to pressure China to stop manipulating its currency.

After calling for a hearing at the World Trade Organization which could allow the U.S. to impose sanctions against China, Romney had perhaps his strongest language yet on the topic.

"People say, 'well you’ll start starting a trade war.' There’s one going on right now, folks," he said. "They’re stealing our jobs and we’re going to stand up to China."

The former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital CEO is largely viewed as a business conservative, not a Tea Party populist. His decision to make Chinese currency manipulation a main part of his economic plan and foreign policy rhetoric shows that he's trying to broaden his appeal to more populist, Tea Party supporters in states like South Carolina that have been hard-hit by globalization and free trade.