The Romney campaign, apparently aware of the fact that it’s currently losing, is still trying to find a winning message. As of this morning, Team Romney will now shift its attention to Asia.
“I think it’s clear that the message on China has resonated not only with the voters, but you can tell with the response from the Obama campaign,” Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said. “They went up with an ad in response to it on China and on top of that, the administration filed a case.”
To that end, Romney unveiled this new spot this morning, focusing on China.
For the record, Gillespie may be having some delusions of grandeur about the administration’s actions – it’s true that officials filed a WTO complaint against China after Romney launched an attack ad, but the timing appears entirely coincidental given that the Obama administration filed a series of similar WTO complaints against China, over the course of four years, that had nothing to do Romney rhetoric. Indeed, as Rachel recently explained, the Obama administration has been “confrontational toward China in a way that no modern administration has ever been.”
But if this is really going to be a driving focus of the Romney message going forward, let’s dig a little deeper.
It’s worth noting, for example, that just three years ago, Romney found Romney’s new line of attack to be wrong, if not ridiculous. Alec MacGillis reported today on 2009 comments Romney made to the Foreign Policy Initiative, during which he condemned the Obama administration’s efforts to retaliate against unfair Chinese business practices. In other words, Obama was getting “tough,” and Romney found it counter-productive and misguided.
A year later, in his No Apology book, Romney said, “President Obama’s action to defend American tire companies from foreign competition may make good politics by repaying unions for their support of his campaign, but it is decidedly bad for the nation and our workers. Protectionism stifles productivity.” In other words, Romney thought Obama was too tough in pushing back against China’s trade policies – the opposite of what he’s saying now.
This is the same Romney who, according to his 2011 tax returns, invested more than $75,000 in China’s state-owned oil company. He also invested in Chinese manufacturing companies.
If this is the issue that’s supposed to rescue Romney, he’s in trouble.