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A mainstay of presidential campaigning: China-bashing

Along with all the glad-handing, stump speeches and posing, there is another mainstay of presidential campaigning: bashing China
China-bashing in presidential campaigns 03:23

Along with all the glad-handing, stump speeches and posing, there is another mainstay of presidential campaigning: bashing China.

"China's taking our jobs and taking our money," GOP front-runner Donald Trump said.

But Trump isn't the only presidential candidate to be critical of China, CBS News' Chip Reid reports.

"They're also trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America," Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said.

In an opinion piece for Friday's Wall Street Journal, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also vowed he would take on what he calls a "rising threat to U.S. national security."

"Foreign policy issues -- especially China -- are very easy targets because there is no cost really during an election to say what you think," said Orville Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society.

And there is plenty of that.

"We need to stop China's cyber-attacks, slow down their advances into national waters and speak out about their abysmal human rights record," Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker said.

Walker's campaign is petitioning to put the kibosh on next month's visit by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump said he'd offer a Big Mac instead of a state dinner.

On Republican Mike Huckabee's website, there's a page devoted to China hacking, which reads, in part, "the way you deal with a bully on the playground is to punch them in the face and put them on the ground, because the only thing they respect is power."

"I think China should realize that they are creating a reaction that's not helpful to either their position in the world or U.S.-China relations. On the other hand, I think it would be most unseemly for the president of the U.S. to punch the president of China!" Schell said.

With accusations of hacking into U.S. government computers, its provocative land reclamation in the South China Sea and the major role Chinese currency devaluation played in shocking markets worldwide this week, recent Chinese behavior has been political red meat for presidential hopefuls.

And poking China is nothing new. In 2012, during a debate, presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would label China as a "currency manipulator."

But a strange thing happens once the victor takes office. The recognition of China's importance as a trading partner and nuclear power sinks in, and there's often a softer, more diplomatic touch.

When President Bill Clinton was candidate in 1992, he railed against the "butchers of Beijing." Once in office, he called China a "strategic partner." George W. Bush attacked Clinton for that, but Bush himself would end up engaging Beijing as well.

"Every president sort of finds the balance point in the middle somehow after they get into office ... Presidents realize that their job is to make the world a peaceful, livable place, and they can't just run off the rails and mouth off," Schell said.

The White House is dismissing Republican calls to cancel President Xi's visit. A White House spokesman said engagement with China is an effective way for the U.S. to advance our interests around the world.

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