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The Obama administration plans to file a broad trade case at the World Trade Organization in Geneva on Monday accusing China of unfairly subsidizing its exports of autos and auto parts, a senior administration official said late Sunday, in a move with clear political implications for the presidential elections less than two months away.
Obama will announce the case on Monday, while he campaigns in Ohio, a state which relies on the auto industry and has benefited greatly from the success of Obama's auto bailout. This announcement comes on the heels of admissions from within the Romney campaign that Ohio may be slipping away from them. Following those leaks, NBC/Marist showed Obama with a 7 point lead in Ohio.
Of course, this is hardly a one-off last minute move by the Obama administration. They have consistently pressed trade issues against China.
"President Obama has always stood up for American workers, regardless of politics. He's filed seven trade complaints against China, bringing cases at twice the rate of the Bush administration," Smith said.
Washington won a major victory in an election-year dispute against China on Monday when a WTO ruling found China had discriminated against U.S. bank card suppliers in favor of a state-owned enterprise that enjoys an illegal monopoly.
In recent days, there have been dueling ads out of the Obama and Romney campaigns specifically on the issue of China and trade. Romney put out an ad first and Obama hit back with this:
This action, while part of an ongoing effort, reinforces the message in his ad and comes at a time where Obama may be on the verge of virtually locking Ohio down. Certainly, it can't hurt.
Update: Here's a bonus web video with Stephanie Cutter going into greater depth on Obama's and Romney's records regarding China: