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Government and Politics

Swing state rubber hits the road in debate
Ohio still on the table as Romney, Obama cite Chinese trade and auto bailout
This story is part of a special series.

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
The Ohio rubber hit the road during the third and final presidential debate Monday night between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on the swing state ties in what was supposed to be a foreign policy debate.
Swing state rubber hits the road

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Middle East security and China’s economy took up much of the debate, and the latter gave the candidates a chance to steer the conversation back home. Mitt Romney attacked China’s theft of intellectual property.

“I was with one company that makes valves in process industries. And they said, ‘Look we’re having some valves coming in that were broken and we had to repair them under warranty. And we looked them up and they had our serial number on them. And then we noticed that there was more than one with that serial number.’ There were counterfeit products being made overseas with the same serial number as the U.S. company. The same packaging. These were being sold into our market and around the world as if they were being made by the U.S. competitor. This can’t go on.”

And in response, the president cited recent cases won by his administration against China.

“Steelworkers in Ohio and throughout the Midwest, Pennsylvania, are in a position now to sell steel to China because we won that case. We had a tire case in which they were flooding us with cheap domestic tires -- er, cheap Chinese tires. And we put a stop to it. And as a consequence, saved jobs throughout America. I have to say that Gov. Romney criticized me for being too tough in that tire case. He said this wouldn't be good for American workers and that it would be protectionist. But I tell you those workers don't feel that way.”

Along with tires, the auto bailout figured heavily in the debate. David Cohen of the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute says the president’s support for the bailout has been a lynchpin of his campaign. And Mitt Romney’s support of a managed bankruptcy reorganization has caused the self-described “car guy” nothing but problems.

“Gov. Romney, like in the second debate, tried to take some credit for the auto bailout, saying that the bankruptcy process that the companies went through was what he had suggested. And the president vigorously disputed that. It really is a very difficult issue for the Governor. And I think it’s one of the core reasons why Gov. Romney cannot get over the hump in Ohio. It is a very popular decision. Polling corroborates this. If president Obama ends up winning Ohio, I think some of that will be in part, due to his efforts at rescuing the American auto industry.”

Cohen says he’s been monitoring the evolving electoral map, and the president has a chance to win re-election without Ohio. But for Mitt Romney, it’s much more mathematically difficult without the Buckeye state. And that’s the reason we can expect to see a lot of Romney and Obama, their running mates, family members and surrogates in these last two weeks of the campaign.
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