How many times did Mitt Romney refer to China in this week's debate? Thirteen times. In fact, " cracking down on China" was one of the principal elements, Romney said, of his entire economic plan. The argument dovetailed with the Romney campaign's offensive on the issue in late September.
If you only listened to the Republican candidate, you might think the Obama administration were struggling when it came to addressing unfair Chinese trade practices. In reality, however, President Obama keeps winning these fights.
The World Trade Organization barred China on Thursday from imposing duties on certain U.S. steel exports, siding with U.S. President Barack Obama in a dispute with Beijing over a type of steel made in two election battleground states.
The case involved duties imposed by China on "grain-oriented electrical steel," which is used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators. The steel is made by AK Steel Corp of Ohio and ATI Allegheny Ludlum of Pennsylvania.
Although the specialty steel case is tiny compared with other trade disputes with Beijing, the WTO ruling gave Obama a timely win as he defends himself against accusations by his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, that he is soft on China.
And every time this comes up, I'm reminded of this segment from July.
As Rachel noted at the time, the Obama administration has been "confrontational toward China in a way that no modern administration has ever been." Indeed, none other than Mitt Romney complained a few years ago that the president was too tough on China, and should stop cracking down on its unfair trade practices.
All of this seems to be one of the political world's better kept secrets.