"China must stop manipulating its currency because it's not fair to American manufacturers, it's not fair to you, and we are going to change it when I am President," said Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in his remarks to forum attendees, where he also criticized trade agreements like NAFTA. He pledged to "fight for manufacturing, modernize the steel industry, strengthen our manufacturing base, and have a manufacturing policy to open as many markets as we can for American workers."
His comments were made on April 14 at a forum sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-partisan, non-profit labor-management coalition of the United Steelworkers and the nation's leading manufacturers forged to strengthen manufacturing in America.
"I'm calling for changing our laws to send China a message," said Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who outlined her trade agenda to the audience and highlighted national security concerns related to unfair trade. "If you subsidize your exports and hurt our manufacturers, you'll pay a price." She argued that "you cannot be a strong nation without a strong manufacturing sector."
Sen. John McCain was invited to speak as well but was unable to attend.
Other speakers included United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, United States Steel Corp. senior vice president Terrence Straub, Allegheny Technologies Chief Executive Patrick Hassey and AK Steel Chief Executive Jim Wainscott.
AAM Executive Director Scott Paul applauded the candidates for their willingness to engage on the issues before a largely Pennsylvania audience one week before that state's Democratic primary election. "Senators Obama and Clinton faced an audience who believe that jobs and manufacturing issues are at the heart of this election and they were gratefully received."
AAM has also launched CandidateWatch (http://candidatewatch.manufacturethis.org/), a website that tracks what the Presidential candidates are saying, or not saying, about their plans to stop China from cheating on trade agreements.