Coming off crucial victories in Arizona and Michigan, Mitt Romney swung his attention Wednesday to the crucial swing state of Ohio, where he largely ignored his opponents and instead focused his criticisms on China and America's economic leadership.
"Well it was a big night last night for me," he crowed to 100 people at an American Posts factory in Toledo. "And interestingly, the people who said the economy and jobs were their number one issue, they voted for me overwhelmingly."
Speaking with voters at two events across the state, the former Massachusetts governor stayed on point, positioning himself as the only candidate qualified to fix the economy, and pounding the president for his "failed" policies.
"For two years, he put in place his plans and looked at us. We're still three years later, in an economy that's bumping along the bottom," Romney said about President Obama inheriting a supermajority in Congress. "For me this is all about more jobs, less debt, and smaller government."
But conscious of where he was, Mr. Romney addressed the issue of trade, an important issue for blue collar workers he'll need to attract in order to win Ohio. On the decrease in manufacturing across the country, he blamed China for not playing by the rules of free trade.
"I like trade. I like being able to sell goods around the world," Romney said while speaking to employees at American Posts, a steel post manufacturer based in Toledo. "But now and then people we compete with cheat, and they send products in here in a way that's not fair."
Arguably the most important of the upcoming "Super Tuesday" states that vote March 7, Ohio was once a key part of America's manufacturing belt. Over the years, increased competition and cheaper labor elsewhere forced many companies to either close shop or shift production overseas, resulting in hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost in just the last decade. And the resentment of watching these jobs disappear remains high here, making attacking manufacturing powerhouses like China appealing.
"How does that happen? How is it China's been so successful in taking away our jobs? Well let me tell you how: by cheating," Mr. Romney said accusing China of stealing American intellectual property and manipulating their currency to make exports artificially cheap.
He then turned his fire on President Obama saying, "This president has just sat idly by and watched that happen. Oh he complains, he says he would take them to the mat. But they've walked all over him."