(CBS News) As campaign discourse pivots back to the economy, the Obama campaign is out with a new ad challenging Mitt Romney on China, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of outsourcing jobs and rebutting his claims that he would stand up to the nation.
Just a day after Romney went after Mr. Obama for allegedly not cracking down on China's economic "cheating," the president's re-election campaign is attempting to cast doubt on his credibility on the subject.
"Mitt Romney? Tough on China? Romney's companies were called pioneers in shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas," says a narrator in the thirty-second spot, entitled "The Cheaters," which is set to air on television in nine battleground states.
Citing articles from the Washington Post and the New York Times, the ad contends that Romney "invested in firms that specialized in relocating jobs to low wage countries like China," adding that "even today part of Romney's fortune is invested in China."
"Romney's never stood up to China," the narrator says. "All he's done is send them our jobs."
Throughout this election, the Obama campaign has labeled Romney as an outsourcer, pointing to reports that Bain Capital, which Romney ran until 1999, was involved in such instances. As, some companies that Bain acquired did ship jobs overseas, including Holson Burnes Group. PolitiFact reports that Romney did indeed work at Bain during the entire period during which Bain owned the company, and that it did have operations in China. According to the Associated Press, Holson Burnes laid off workers in New Hampshire and Gaffney, S.C., as it shipped other jobs overseas.
Romney, however, has been blamed for Bain-owned companies moving jobs overseas when he had already left Bain. According to an analysis by the Post's Glenn Kessler, the case of Modus Media, which is referenced in the new Obama ad, is "not an example of shipping jobs overseas"; rather, the company "closed one plant in California and transferred the jobs to North Carolina, Washington and Utah" at the same time it opened an "unrelated" plant in Mexico. The Washington Post points out that the closure in California took place in 2000, after Romney had largely abdicated operational control of Bain.
On Thursday, the Romney campaign released its own China-centric ad, called "Failing American Workers." That ad accuses Mr. Obama of allowing China to beat the United States on manufacturing jobs by refusing to crack down on the country for "cheating."
Romney underscored this point in remarks on the trail Thursday, suggesting that because Mr. Obama has not labeled China a currency manipulator, he is not doing all he can to stop the so-called "cheating."
"Cheating occurs if you hold down your currency," he said at a campaign stop in Fairfax, Virginia. He argued that by keeping its currency low, China makes its products artificially cheap and pushes U.S. manufacturers out of business.
"They steal our technology, they hack into our computers. They also steal our know-how, our patents," he said. "We're going to make sure China understands we mean business."