PORTSMOUTH, Ohio - It was all about China for the Romney-Ryan ticket today, the two politicians hammering the Obama administration for delaying the release of a report that could label China a currency manipulator.
"I want to make sure that when people cheat, when they don't follow the rules in trade, we finally hold them accountable," Mitt Romney told a crowd of 3,000 who had gathered on a college quad to hear him speak.
"You know the president, the president has an opportunity, had an opportunity, was required as of last Friday to officially designate whether China is a currency manipulator," Romney said, going on to explain that being a currency manipulator means that a country is "artificially" holding down the value of its currency so the products it sells are less expensive than those made in other countries, and so that American companies making the same products go out of business.
"And yet over the past several years, the President's failed to call China a currency manipulator," Romney said. "He had the occasion on Friday to come out with that official designation. Do you know what they said? We're not going to make any determination until after the election.
"Let me tell you, on day one of my administration I will label China a currency manipulator. We've got to get those jobs back and get trade to be fair," Romney said, repeating a promise he repeats nearly daily on the stump.
Romney was referring to the U.S. Treasury Department decision Friday to delay the decision as to whether China is manipulating its currency until after the early November meetings of financiers and bank presidents. The Treasury Department said in a statement that the delay would be for an assessment of the progress following a meeting of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank governors next month.
The final decision is now unlikely to come before Election Day in November. The seven prior semi-annual reports by the Treasury Department during the Obama administration have not named China a currency manipulator, but neither did reports under Republican President George W. Bush. The last time China was given such a label was in 1994, according to reports.
The delay of the upcoming report means that the outcome of the decision will probably not be known until after Election Day.
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan made similar remarks at his own campaign event in Ohio today, accusing the administration of pushing off the deadline for the report until after the election.
Early voting is already under way here in Ohio, where both Ryan and Romney will spend the day campaigning, and Sen. Rob Portman, a near-constant presence on the Romney campaign bus as of late, urged voters to take action.
"Now let me ask you something, are you going to do everything you possibly can in the next 24 days to ensure that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a chance to turn this country around?" asked Portman, who spent the morning doing debate prep with Romney at a Columbus hotel. "We've got to. We cannot afford another four years of Barack Obama, right? So let me ask you, are you going to put up a sign for Mitt Romney in your yard, raise your hand. Have you made a phone call for Mitt Romney? Can you make more? Are you willing to go door to door for Mitt Romney? And folks, we need you to vote early."