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Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 09:49 pm PT (12:49 am ET)

Apple's Chinese manufacturing used as talking point in presidential debate

During the second U.S. presidential debate on Tuesday, moderator Candy Crowley broached the hot-button topic of outsourcing, citing Apple as one of the "great American companies" that sends manufacturing jobs overseas to avoid high labor costs.

Presidential Debate

President Barack Obama responds to a statement from Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the second
U.S. presidential debate. | Source: The Washington Post


Crowley invoked Apple in a final question, asking what President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney would do, if anything, to bring back jobs American manufacturers lost to cheap and abundant foreign labor.

"iPad, the Macs the iPhones, they're all manufactured in China," Crowley began. "One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here (sic). How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?"

Governor Romney was first to answer, saying that America is not at fault, but China's "cheating" in major industry is.

"We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level," Governor Romney said, adding, "China's been cheating over the years."

He went on to explain that China has devalued their currency, hacked computers and stolen intellectual property. On the last issue, the Massachusetts governor pointed to the counterfeit "Apple Stoers (sic)" discovered last year in Kunming, China.

As for domestic policy, the Republican candidate made clear that America needs to be made "more attractive to entrepreneurs" and "people who want to expand business." The candidate failed to clarify the stance and instead moved to attack President Obama's tax plan, a strategic move that Crowley cut short due to time constraints.



In response, President Obama conceded that some jobs have left American soil for good, but said such a loss might in the end be chalked up as a net positive.

"Candy, there are some jobs that are not going to come back," the President said. "They're low-wage, low-skill jobs. I want high-wage, high-skill jobs."

Going further, the President said America must emphasize manufacturing and invest in advanced manufacturing, which he says will bring stability going forward. The argument turned quickly to tax reform and the funding of science and research to propel the U.S. forward for years to come.

"If we're adding to our deficit for tax cuts," President Obama said, "and we're cutting investments in research and Science that will create the next Apple, create the next new innovation that will sell products around the world, we will lose that race."

While Apple was merely a jumping off point for the ensuing political banter, the Cupertino company's job creating power, along with that of many U.S. corporations like it, continues to be a significant economic factor impacting the nation today.