The White House pushed back on reporters questioning the timing of President Obama’s decision to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization accusing China of illegally subsidizing auto exports.
“Having this announced on a day when the President was campaigning outside Toledo [Ohio], it does seem like a pretty remarkable coincidence,” a reporter said to Principal Deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
“As I’ve pointed out a couple of times here, these cases are months in the making, and the president doesn’t believe that we should delay these kinds of important actions merely because we’re in the middle of a campaign,” he said Monday.
“This is one of the things that the president campaigned on. This is one of the things that the president believes is a top responsibility of his, which is to go on the international stage, to go before the WTO, and advocate for American workers, and to insist on a level competitive playing field.”
Earnest was then asked, “If this is not a political move at all, then why is the president touting this in a political event at the start of a political campaign swing, rather than if he is speaking directly to American workers, touting this at an official event where he’s speaking to — not as a candidate for reelection but as President?”
He responded, “Well, because we are 50 days out from an election, the President has to balance his responsibilities … both as a candidate for reelection but also as President of the United States.”
Earnest added that “there is particular resonance in this issue in Ohio” because “there are tens of thousands of workers who are employed in the auto parts manufacturing sector.”