President Obama declared that Mitt Romney was "the last person who is going get tough with China." He cited Romney investments in Chinese companies some of which were "pioneers" in outsourcing and in another that engaged in surveillance of Chinese citizens. Romney acknowledged holding some investments in China, but pointed out that these have been managed by a blind trust for the past eight years.

He said Obama, through his pension fund, also has "investments in China." Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, did invest in firms that specialized in outsourcing during the years Romney ran the private equity firm. In using the term "pioneer" Obama was referring to a story in The Washington Post that detailed early investments made by Bain in companies that would become major players in outsourcing to China and other countries.

In addition, Romney has a stake in a Bain investment fund that owns Uniview Technologies, a Chinese firm that produces "infra-red" cameras and surveillance gear. That investment did not occur until late 2011, long after Romney left Bain Capital. Obama deflected questions about his own investments in China with a joke. But independent reports have shown Obama holds shares in mutual funds that invest in Apple, Wal-Mart and other U.S. firms with operations in China. More serious questions about Obama's record on outsourcing have been raised from critics on the left, which were not addressed during the debate.