Claim: An advertisement endorsed by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 starts off with a graphic claiming that America has lost 582,000 manufacturing jobs since President Barack Obama took office while China has experienced a 25 percent increase in manufacturing. The ad states: "Under Obama, we've lost over half a million manufacturing jobs and, for the first time, China is beating us. Seven times, Obama could have stopped China's cheating. Seven times, he refused."
Claim: A counter advertisement endorsed by Democrat Obama that is also airing on KLAS-TV states: "Mitt Romney, tough on China? Romney's companies were called pioneers in shipping U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas. He invested in firms that specialized in relocating jobs to low-wage countries like China. Even today part of Romney's fortune is invested in China. Romney has never stood up to China. All he's done is send them our jobs."
Verdict: Both ads are misleading for different reasons. Romney's ad cites no sources and the statement about U.S. job losses lacks context. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last year that U.S. manufacturing jobs steadily declined since peaking in 1979 and that more than 2 million individuals lost employment in that sector from December 2007 through June 2009. That was the official duration of the last recession, one that began under President George W. Bush. The ad offers no explanation for what it means by China's cheating and Obama's refusal to respond. The ad also leaves one with the impression that China's economic machine began churning only after Obama took office in January 2009. China actually has enjoyed economic growth for decades, a point the Romney campaign website made in the opening sentence of his position on China and East Asia. It reads: "In 2010, after 30 years of dramatic growth, China surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest economy after ours." The position goes on to state that China employs "abusive commercial practices." But the ad doesn't provide evidence that such practices began under Obama or that the president has done nothing in response.
The ad endorsed by Obama revisits the misleading charge his campaign made earlier this year when it claimed that Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, was a pioneer in shipping U.S. jobs overseas. The claim was taken from a June story in The Washington Post, which reported that Bain "owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components..." But Brandeis University resident scholar and author Ellen Israel Rosen, in the book "Making Sweatshops: The Globalization of the U.S. Apparel Industry," wrote in detail how U.S. apparel companies began opening assembly plants offshore in the 1960s. Sears opened an apparel assembly plant in Honduras in 1965, she wrote. That was two decades before Romney became involved with Bain. While the newspaper reported that Bain-backed companies began outsourcing jobs before Romney left Bain in 1999, it isn't clear how many of those jobs wound up in China or whether he played any role in encouraging investment in that country. The New York Times reported in March that "a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company..." But the manager of the Romney trusts told the Times that Romney had no role in guiding his family's investment in the Chinese company Uniview Technologies.