It hasn’t been a good weekend for the President. The NBC/WSJ poll, released earlier today, shows the race tied at 47 percent. As NBC’s Chuck Todd told David Gregory, “Sitting at 47 is a good number for a challenger, not a good number for an incumbent.” The latest Gallup poll has Romney up 7 points, 52-45. NRO hears that the latest attempt by the President’s team to check Romney’s momentum will come via a years-old video in which Romney sounds more conciliatory toward the PRC. Romney, of course, will be portrayed as a flip-flopper. It will be another instance of “Romnesia.”
Our understanding is that the Obama campaign is working closely with media outlets to broadcast the video below, part of a 2007 talk Romney delivered in Pittsburgh:
You know, I think it’s important first for the American people and our leadership to understand that China is not like the Soviet Union of old. The Soviet Union, Khrushchev in particular, wanted to bury us. China doesn’t want to bury us, they want to see us succeed and thrive so that we can buy more Chinese products and they’re a competitor economically. More power to ‘em, we know how to compete. We want to make sure that competition is fair and legal, and that they protect our intellectual property rights and that they have a monetary policy that’s fair, so we’ve got some challenges to make sure that the playing field is level with China, but we can compete, we can be successful with China, and I will reach out to them, I’ve already met with their leadership and will do so again if I’m lucky enough to be president. Making China a partner for stability in the world will be one of my highest priorities.
China is really key in many respects as they become a very large economy; their GNP is going to surpass ours at some point just given the scale of the nation’s population. We have to recognize that they’re going to be an economic powerhouse like us. And with that reality we gotta make sure that we are friendly, that we understand each other, that we’re open in communicating, and that we’re collaborating on important topics, like keeping North Korea from pursuing the nuclear armament which they’ve begun, getting Iran to abandon their nuclear ambitions, China and we together will have a great deal of positive influence for stability if we’re able to work that relationship properly.
If the tone is different, there is no inconsistency between Romney’s 2007 remarks and those he has made on the campaign trail. While Romney and Ryan have frequently pledged to take China to task for manipulating the currency and violating America’s intellectual property rights, those are just aspects of–as Romney put it in 2007– “making sure that competition is fair and legal.” (NR’s editors, by the way, haven’t been enamored of the China rhetoric.) The Obama campaign is desperate to find any new flip-flopping charge, and perhaps realizes the president’s record on China isn’t anything to brag about. He, after all, sent the Dalai Lama out the trash exit of the White House, for fear of angering China.
Over at the New York Times, meanwhile, David Sanger would have us believe there are no substantive differences between the two candidates on foreign policy, that “it’s becoming maddeningly difficult to tease out concrete differences in how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would deal with an angry, unmanageable world that at once craves and resents American intervention.” Nonsense. President Obama has abdicated America’s international leadership role, using drone strikes and Bin Laden’s death as cover, while Governor Romney promises to reassert that leadership. Let’s hope we hear more about that tomorrow night–but expect to hear about the 2007 video before then.
Update: On CBS’ Face the Nation this morning, TIME’s Joe Klein perfectly encapsulated Obama’s China problem, which is likely behind the forthcoming attack:
The one issue in this debate tomorrow night that is a major domestic issue in this country, at least on the ground level, is China. You hear Governor Romney being very aggressive, and where is that coming from? That is coming from his focus groups in Ohio, in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania…where people think that China has been cheating and we’re slipping behind them…This is a real challenge for the President tomorrow night because Romney is going to take a position that is politically popular in the swing states, and how does the President respond to that. This is a real test.