Sunday, May 19, 2013
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — President Barack Obama lodged an unfair-trade complaint against China Monday and immediately used it as a wedge against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, whose beleaguered campaign hit another pothole — in the form of private remarks made to donors — just as it was trying to reassure anxious supporters.
President Barack Obama points to the crowd as he leaves a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/David McNew)
Obama told voters in Ohio, where the auto industry is important, of his administration's new push for the World Trade Organization to sanction China for subsidizing exports of vehicles and auto parts — and costing American jobs.
Romney responded quickly and dismissively. Obama "may think that announcing new trade cases less than two months from Election Day will distract from his record, but the American businesses and workers struggling on an uneven playing field know better," the Republican said.
Referring to his own criticism of Obama, he said, "If I'd known all it took to get him to take action was to run an ad citing his inaction on China's cheating, I would have run one long ago."
It was Romney's own campaign, however, that preoccupied many GOP activists around the country Monday. Just as aides were trying to calm unhappy supporters, a video surfaced showing Romney telling wealthy donors that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support.
"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," he tells the donors.
Romney was referring to the 46 percent of Americans who do not owe federal income taxes; he put the figure at 47 percent in his videotaped remarks. Many of those Americans pay other forms of taxes. While many such households are poor, some families making $100,000 a year or more pay no federal income tax because of various deductions and credits.
Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, called Romney's comments "shocking." An Obama adviser, who was not authorized to discuss campaign strategy publicly and requested anonymity, said the Democratic campaign might use Romney's comments from the fundraising video in television spots.
In response to the video, the Romney campaign said, "Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy."
Hours before the video was reported by Mother Jones magazine, Romney allies tried to dampen growing complaints that the campaign fumbled opportunities at its August convention, on foreign unrest and, most crucially, on the U.S. economy, which is seen as Obama's weakest point.
Campaign adviser Ed Gillespie, in a conference call with reporters, said voters want more details about Romney's tax and spending proposals, and he promised they will come.
"We're not rolling out new policies," Gillespie said, but the campaign wants people to "understand when we say we can do these things, here's how we're going to get them done, and these are the specifics."
Obama, however, continued to taunt Romney for gaps in his deficit-cutting promises. It wasn't immediately clear when Romney might start offering more specifics.
Deficit hawks have long urged politicians of all stripes to tell voters the painful truth that services must be cut and/or taxes must be raised to slow federal deficit spending.
Romney addressed another sensitive area Monday, immigration, in his speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.
He pledged to work with both parties to "permanently fix our immigration system." He said a fair and efficient system would never be achieved "if we do not first get control of our borders."
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