PORTSMOUTH, Ohio -- Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan went back to school yesterday to rally college students in all-important Ohio and accuse President Barack Obama of going easy on China over unfair trade practices.
Obama took time off the campaign trail to practice for the next debate against his GOP rival. It was an unspoken acknowledgment of the importance that Obama attaches to upping his game in Debate No. 2 Tuesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead that the president is largely dropping out of sight for five straight days in the final weeks of the race to prepare.
Even while cloistered for debate prep at a resort in Williamsburg, Va., though, the president didn't completely cede the spotlight to Romney.
His weekly radio and Internet address highlighted the Obama administration's work to revive the U.S. auto industry -- a message aimed squarely at working-class voters in manufacturing-heavy states such as Ohio.
Romney, for his part, told a crowd of more than 3,000 people at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth that Obama was ducking an important decision on whether China is manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage. A decision was due Monday, but the Treasury Department said Friday the decision won't come until after global finance officials meet in early November. That means a decision is unlikely before the Nov. 6 election.
"It's time for us to stand up to China for their cheating," Romney declared. "It's got to stop."
Romney framed the issue squarely as a matter of jobs, saying cheap Chinese products were driving American companies out of business. Ryan, too, criticized the administration for failing to hold China accountable for its trade practices.
The Obama campaign dismissed the Republicans' tough talk on China as nothing more than talk.