Obama-Romney: China Syndrome

Photograph by Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

A clerk at a branch of the Bank of China Ltd. counts one hundred yuan notes in Beijing.

In China, Mitt Romney said, the challenge is a matter of making sure the country plays by the rules in foreign trade.

“Over the long term,” President Barack Obama said, “we’ve got to make sure that we’re taking care of business at home.”

China’s goal is an economy that works — “China has not played by the rules,” Romney said in the final debate of three tonight, repeating his pledge to label China as “a currency manipulator” on his first day in office.

Moderator Bob Schieffer asked about the risk of a trade war with China.

China sells the U.S. far more than the U.S. sells China, Romney said. “It’s clear who doesn’t want a trade war.”

Romney should know about shipping jobs overseas, Obama said — his private equity firm invested in companies that shipped jobs there.

“I’ve made a different bet — on American workers,” Obama said. “If we’d taken your advice on auto workers, governor, we’d be buying cars from China instead of selling cars to China.”

“I’m a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was the head of a car company,” Romney said.  When the auto-makers were in trouble, he said, “They needed to go through bankruptcy.”

What a president shouldn’t do, he said, is invest in companies like Tesla and Fisker — electric auto-makers that have received federal subsidies.

“Governor Romney, you keep on trying to airbrush history,” Obama said, reminding his rival of his stance on the auto-industry bailout.

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