For most mayors, having both presidential candidates campaigning in your town or city at the same time is cause for excitement. But for Mayor Michael Bell of Toledo, Ohio, it brought some mixed feelings. That’s because when the candidates made their campaign stop in Toledo last month, Mayor Bell was worried that what they might say could actually hurt his local economy.
With Romney labeling China a "currency manipulator," and Obama advocating against jobs going overseas to China, Mayor Bell was concerned the disparaging remarks could interfere with his plans to encourage Chinese investors to look to his town for future opportunities.
John Hockenberry stopped by Mayor Bell's office in Toledo to talk about how America's relationship with China may impact his local economy.
"I was concerned that we would insult the people that were prepared to help us," Mayor Bell says. "I was praying to God that they would be a little lighter on the rhetoric involving China in this period of time that we were doing the conference."
Mayor Bell thinks that America has become increasingly uncomfortable with China over the last few years because we are accustomed to being top dog. "We've been doing business with China for many many years," he says. "This is nothing new." In Toledo, the mayor has set aside ego, and invited Chinese investors to come to the city.
"When I reach over there, and I bring businesses here and they're willing to invest here, this is now new money in the United States." Mayor Bell explains. Far from taking jobs away from the United States, doing this kind of business with China actually creates jobs, because as businesses grow, they need more and more employees.
So why all of the China-bashing in politics? "If you can jump onto something that people get energized about, realizing that most of them aren't going to research it, all you gotta do is roll with it," Mayor Bell says of the rhetoric. He also noted that, even while these things are being said, there is constantly business being done with China. "The bottom line is actually the dollar." As long as money is being made by business with China, Bell thinks that it isn't likely any of this rhetoric will have real implications for U.S. economic policy.