NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took a harsh tone on China and President Barack Obama at a rally at Walsh University here, saying Obama is being treated “like a doormat” by Chinese leaders.
“Free trade is a powerful tool for peace and prosperity, but our trading partners need to play by the rules,” Ryan said, repeating a frequent Romney campaign talking point. “This challenge focuses on China. They steal our intellectual property rights, they block access to their markets, they manipulate their currency. President Obama he would stop these practices. He said he’d go to the mat with China, instead they are treating him like a doormat.”
Ryan’s Wisconsin inflection left many at first thinking he said “doorman,” which caused a minor Twitter firestorm, but reporters confirmed off their recordings that he indeed, did say “doormat.”
The rhetoric was Ryan’s first engagement on foreign policy issues since being announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate on Saturday, and a continuation of the campaign’s tough tone on China.
Romney’s — and now Ryan’s — confrontational tone on China (which mirror’s Obama’s 2008 rhetoric) has drawn some criticism from inside his party, with critics including former Ambassador Jon Huntsman arguing that a “trade war” will put the damper on trade.