CLIVE, IOWA — Well, this is awkward. Mitt Romney, who’s been on the trail recently talking tough on China, is making his last campaign stop of the day before the caucuses at a business that touts the way it outsources much of its manufacturing to China.
Competitive Edge is a firm headquartered near Des Moines that creates and sells promotional items with corporate logos. Romney’s scheduled to make a campaign stop there at around 9:00 PM CT, as part of a day-long tour through the Hawkeye State in the run-up to Tuesday’s caucuses.
What he may not mention: customers of Competitive Edge are choosing a company to make their promotional goods that brags about how much manufacturing work it sends to China.
From the company’s website:
We achieve this goal by utilizing a global network of manufacturers that assist us in sourcing, designing and making our products. It is not surprising that most labor-intensive products are produced in China. What may not be as well known is the level of sophistication and technical expertise that Chinese manufacturers have developed. Competitive Edge takes advantage of these foreign assets and has been working with Chinese manufacturers for over 25 years. As a result of our years of experience and our extensive factory and agent relationships in China, we are able to bring great value and a high level of service to our customer.
The website also features pictures of Chinese employees hard at work on what looks to be Competitive Edge orders. They’re really quite good at sending work to China, the website says:
Our extensive use of cutting edge technology makes it easy for us to collaborate and compete in real time with people and companies located anywhere in the world. Utilizing computer networking, e-mail, teleconferencing and dynamic software applications, conducting business in China is as easy for us as working with domestic companies.
At the Clive location, where Romney will be speaking, the company houses its “Screen Printing and Embroidery Departments.”
On the trail, Romney has said he’d take China before the WTO to be penalized for currency manipulation. Rival Jon Huntsman has warned against that, saying it would start a trade war that would boost prices on Chinese goods and, presumably, making life a lot harder for companies like Competitive Edge.