Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan on Saturday tagged China as "cheaters" in the global economy and accused President Obama of being soft on a country whose trade and currency policies are hurting the U.S. manufacturing sector and the middle class.
Romney and Ryan, speaking at separate campaign stops across Ohio, hammered away at the Obama administration for delaying a decision due Monday on whether to declare that China is manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages.
"Over the past several years, the president has failed to call China a currency manipulator," Romney said at a rally in Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. "Let me tell you, on Day One of my administration I will label China a currency manipulator. We have got to get those jobs back and get trade to be fair."
He made similar remarks later in the day to potential voters at a rally in the city of Lebanon and added: "China's been cheating, and I'm not going to let it go on."
Earlier in the day, Ryan, R-Wis., said he and Romney would "hold cheaters accountable."
"The administration had its eighth chance to label China a currency manipulator," Ryan said during a rally at Youngstown State University. "And they've indicated they are going to push this deadline off until after the election. That's eight opportunities to say: 'You know what, play fair with us, trade with us fairly.'"
The report examines the foreign exchange practices for major U.S. trading partners and has previously cited China for failing to allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly.
The Treasury Department now says the decision will come after finance ministers and central bank presidents meet Nov. 4-5 in Mexico City.
The agency said the delay would allow the administration to "assess progress" following the discussions of officials in the Group of 20 nations, which includes China.
"Mitt Romney's talking tough, but his record and his policies show he's anything but when it comes to China," Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said. "As a corporate buyout specialist, he invested in companies that were pioneers in outsourcing to low-wage countries like China. That's not a candidate who would be tough on China as president."
Romney has already attacked the administration for not targeting China for unfair trade practices and is expected to renew the attack during an economic speech next week.
Ryan on Saturday also told potential voters in Ohio – a hub of U.S. manufacturing and rich in mineral resources – that China is hurting the middle class and a vital part of the U.S. economic by stealing secrets to make then sell less expensive goods in the global market.
"We need a strong manufacturing base in America if we want a strong middle class in America," he said.
Romney and Ryan are trying to win this critical battleground state in the closing weeks of the election cycle.
"We need Ohio," Romney shouted at the close of the final rally. "If we get Ohio, we're going to be able to take back America."
Romney spent nearly four hours in the morning preparing for his second debate with President Obama.
Ryan spent part of the morning visiting St. Michael's Church of Canfield, Ohio, a catholic charity, where he talked to homeless people and washed pots and pans that earlier provided food for the needy.
While on the Youngstown campus, Ryan also cited an International Trade Commission report showing the U.S. has lost 2 million jobs as a result of China taking intellectual property rights.
"Taking our patents, taking our goods that we make and copying them and selling them -- that's not correct, that's not right, that's cheating," he said.
Ryan was also critical of Washington Republicans and Democrats alike for allowing the federal deficit to reach $16 trillion with 48 percent of the debt being owned by other countries, with China at the top.
"This compromises our sovereignty," he said.