In Ohio, Obama slams China, Romney

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Eden Park AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at Seasongood Pavilion, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

(CBS News) China has once again entered the campaign discussion as President Obama launched another round of attacks against his opponent Mitt Romney on his China policy and announced that he is filing another trade complaint against the country.

"Now, I understand my opponent has been running around Ohio claiming he's going to roll up his sleeves and take the fight to China," Mr. Obama told a crowd in Cincinnati Monday. "Ohio, you can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs."

The president was referring to Romney's time at Bain Capital, a private equity firm that bought companies and moved jobs to China. It has been a common attack on the campaign trail in an effort to smear Romney's time at Bain, although many of the outsourcing claims either happened after Romney's time at Bain or didn't happen exactly the way Romney's critics describe them. The Obama campaign renewed the attack Friday when it launched a new television ad accusing Romney of outsourcing jobs overseas and continued the barrage today.

The president also announced a new enforcement action against China for what it claims is illegally subsidizing exports of automobile parts. The administration says the subsidies totaled $1 billion and is harming American auto parts makers.

"These are subsidies that directly harm working men and women on the assembly line in Ohio and Michigan and across the Midwest... . It's not right, it's against the rules and we will not let it stand," Obama said. "American workers build better products than anyone. 'Made in America' means something. And ...when the playing field is level, America will always win."

This is the second complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) filed in recent months against China. In July, President Obama filed another complaint challenging the country for what it said was imposing illegal duties on $3 billion worth of cars and SUVs. That announcement was also first announced in an Ohio newspaper, the Toledo Blade, and was highlighted the same day at a campaign stop near Toledo.

12.4 percent of Ohio's jobs are tied to the auto industry, according to figures provided by the administration, and the state is a crucial presidential battleground state. Although both candidates heavily contest there, Ohio, is a state that President Obama has consistently held a slight advantage. In the latest Quinnipiac/CBS News/NY Times poll in August, Mr. Obama held a 6 point advantage over Romney.

When asked if the timing was political, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said it wasn't. "The president doesn't believe that we should delay these kinds of important actions merely because we're in the middle of a campaign," Earnest told reporters en route to the Cincinnati event.

Romney, who has said on the campaign trail that he will confront China on its currency manipulation, released a statement criticizing what he called election-year tactics. "Campaign-season trade cases may sound good on the stump, but it is too little, too late for American businesses and middle-class families," Romney said. "I will not wait until the last months of my presidency to stand up to China, or do so only when votes are at stake."

"There's actually been a willingness on the part of the Obama administration to resort to the WTO in other fields," Joshua Meltzer, fellow at the Brookings Institution told CBS News.

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has filed additional complaints with the WTO against China on the issue of the country's wind energy manufacturing and raw materials exports. The WTO sided with the U.S. in both instances.

But while campaigning in Ohio and Michigan, Mr. Obama has consistently highlighted the bailout of the auto industry, the increase of manufacturing jobs and tough talk against China - all things he did at his latest campaign stop.

He said his goals are "to export more products and outsource fewer jobs," he told the crowd. "I bet on American workers. And three years later the American auto industry has come roaring back."

As he began to inject his opponent into his speech, the crowd began to jeer. Mr. Obama responded with a line he's repeatedly used on the campaign trail: "Don't boo. Vote."

Mr. Obama also reminded voters that early voting in Ohio begins October 2, and said voting early leaves more "time getting other folks to vote."

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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