Who do you think said the following?
“For too long, we’ve let China cheat. The president, when he was a candidate, said that he was going to take China to the mat. I’m afraid most of us thought he meant the wrestling mat. But instead, he immediately got taken to the door mat.”
It was Mitt Romney, the usually steady, measured and calculating Republican presidential candidate. He made the remarks in July, as he toured Screen Machine Industries, a manufacturer of heavy-duty rock crushing equipment in Pataskala, Ohio.
The manufacturer’s president told Romney that Chinese firms had copied the company’s patented machines to undercut the firm in the global marketplace – and Romney sought to lay blame squarely on President Obama.
Romney will take the same tack Thursday afternoon, as he delivers a trade policy speech at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., where he plans to deliver a tough message about the Chinese and intellectual-property theft.
“As president, I will present China with a clear choice,” Romney said in a statement Thursday previewing his remarks at Microsoft. “Either abide by your commitments, open your markets, and respect our property, or else the days of open access to our markets, our ideas, and our companies, are over.”
Romney plans to say that if China continues to “pursue an ‘indigenous innovation’ policy by coercing and stealing from foreign firms,” his administration would impose punitive tariffs on Chinese products and impose intellectual property sanctions by blocking the transfer into China of technologies that China has prioritized.
More than any other candidate in the GOP presidential race, Romney has seized on China as a campaign issue, repeatedly talking tough about the Asian nation and labeling it a “cheater.”
Democrats pounced on Romney’s China aggression by suggesting he had hardened his posture from the one he took in his policy book, “No Apology.”
“A year ago, Romney hit Obama in the book for being too tough on China. Now Mitt’s a trade warrior? Should he have called his book No Shame!” David Axelrod, Obama’s top political strategist, tweeted Thursday morning.
Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted back: “@davidaxelrod You should rename Obama’s book, ‘The Audacity of Indifference, or How I Golfed My Way Through a Recession.’”
In Tuesday night’s Washington Post-Bloomberg debate, Romney said: “I will label China as it is, a currency manipulator. And I will go after them for stealing our intellectual property.
“They will recognize that if they cheat, there is a price to pay,” Romney continued. “I certainly don’t want a trade war with anybody… but we can’t have a trade surrender, either.”
Trump, after calling Romney one of the “winners” in the debate, tweeted on Wednesday: “Mitt Romney is right about the Chinese rip-off of America.”
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., who until earlier this year served as Obama’s ambassador to China, criticized Romney’s posture.
“First of all, I don’t subscribe to the Donald Trump school or the Mitt Romney school of international trade. I don’t want to find ourselves in a trade war,” Huntsman quipped.
It’s no coincidence that China policy is a major concern of Trump’s. Since he said he would not run for president, a slew of Republican White House aspirants have paid him visits seeking his support – including Romney, who met with Trump last month in New York.
So might Trump soon endorse Romney? The business tycoon is taking the wait-and-see approach. And, his associates say, Trump hasn’t closed the door on a run of his own, as an independent.
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