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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Third Debate: Romney Takes Apologetic Stance Toward China

Ryan Shaw |
October 22, 2012 | 9:39 p.m. PDT


(Barack Obama, Creative Commons)
(Barack Obama, Creative Commons)
As expected, China became a big part of the foreign policy debate Monday night. Each candidate promised to be tougher with trade negotiations than the other guy.

It is interesting to note that both the candidates took a soft tone when speaking about China. Romney at times almost appeared apologetic when speaking about China's intentions and its need to take care of "20 million people per year" that come from the rural farms into the cities looking for work. 

This atitude likely stems from the corporate culture of global capitalism that Romney has been around his whole life. Many American companies have moved into China and have increased profits by doing so. For Romney, that is a victory. To him, the better American corporations are doing, the better America is indirectly doing. It's the basis of trickle-down economics on a global scale. 

Obama had a more harsh tone with regard to China, and I suspect that Americans will respond more positively to skeptism toward China than they will to the more apologetic tone Romney expressed. 

Obama finally had a chance to bring up the things he has done to help put Americans on a more fair footing in the international marketplace. The bit about steel workers in Pennsylvania was a great nod to labor unions and blue collar voters, and it displayed his ability to craft better deals for American workers and manufacturers in China. Obama also talked about the international trade task force he set up to go after trade cheaters. This sort of aggresive tone resonates with voters as many have lost their jobs to outsourcing. The President also hit Romney on his stance of giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas to places like China. 

Regardless of the trade position taken by each candidate in terms of China, the fact remains that the U.S. and Chinese economy are heavily interdependant, and increasing cooperation is needed to make sure both countries profit equally from any trade exchanges - as all trading is meant to do.

Romney mentioned his desire to expand trade with Latin America, but provided no details on his plan for the region. With the growing middle class in Mexico, it is becoming almost as important to the U.S. as China in terms of trade, but still, China grabbed most of the focus in the debate Monday night.

Romney should follow up the debate with a more targeted message of trade with Latin America, and partnerships with Spanish-speaking nations. Given the grip Obama has on Latino voters, if Romney can break into any of those votes, that may be enough to swing a very close election.   

Obama can help his cause by continuing to highlight his acheivments for trade abroad. Anything positive tied to the President's name and the economy in general helps him chip away at Romney's lead over him on economic issues. This could help swing the election in favor of the incumbent. 


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage of the 2012 Presidential Debate here.

Follow Columnist Ryan Shaw on Twitter here.



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