BOWLING GREEN, Ohio–In the opening salvo of today’s Ohio campaign showdown, President Obama accused Republican rival Mitt Romney of “newfound outrage” over Chinese trade practices and disingenuous claims that he would hold the Asian power accountable.
“When you hear this newfound outrage, 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,” Obama told a crowd of 5,500 supporters at Bowling Green State University. “I mean, it’s just not credible.”
The president wryly conceded, however, that Romney’s tough talk is “better than what he’s actually done about this thing,” referring to China’s alleged unfair behavior that many Ohioans see as threatening manufacturing jobs.
“It sounds better than talking about all the years he spent profiting from companies that sent our jobs to China,” Obama said. Earlier today, his campaign put out a web video and research memo highlighting Romney’s investments in Chinese companies over the years as a corporate buyout specialist with Bain Capital.
The president sought to cast himself as a warrior for American workers, highlighting trade cases his administration has brought – and won – against China at the World Trade Organization.
Romney, who is also in Ohio today and was holding an event 130 miles away, has claimed on the stump and in TV ads running here that Obama has not been consistent or tough enough in defending American companies against abusive foreign competitors.
“A lot of people can talk. Talk is cheap,” Romney said of Obama at a rally in Bedford Heights. “You can be extraordinarily eloquent and describe all the wonderful things you can do but when you cut through the words you can look at the record and when you can see policies that have not created the jobs America needs then you know it is time to choose a new leader, get a new coach, get America growing again.”
A Romney campaign spokeswoman noted that Obama has refused to label China a “currency manipulator” and argued that the actions the administration touts have “failed, expired or been described as mere ‘peanuts’ by trade analysts” at restoring a level playing field for American companies.
ABC News’ Steven Portnoy contributed reporting.