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Obama to Romney: I'm Tough On China, Too Obama to Romney: I'm Tough On China, Too

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Obama to Romney: I'm Tough On China, Too

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President Barack Obama, followed by US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, center, and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, leaves the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 13, 2012, after making a statement. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The White House announcement Tuesday that the United States has launched the beginning of a formal complaint over Beijing's hold on rare earth materials doesn't only take aim at China. Made just eight months before Election Day, the move has another high-profile target in mind: Mitt Romney. 
The candidate most of Washington deems the inevitable GOP presidential nominee (even as he continues to slug through the primary season) has unexpectedly emerged as a China trade-hawk during his campaign. At times, he's sounded like a card-carrying union member urging a protectionist agenda, even promising to declare the world's second-largest economy a currency manipulator.
The rhetoric, particularly for a candidate who sells himself as a businessman, has worried business groups and free-trade advocates normally predisposed to back the ex-governor. But politically speaking, it could give him a useful cudgel against President Obama in the fall.

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