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Galvanizing Dispute Becoming New Campaign Issue?

Friday, 28 Sep 2012 | 6:40 PM ET
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
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President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

With the election a little over a month away, a polarizing issue may be surfacing and it could become a deciding factor as voters head to the polls.

It’s China – and whether Washington is being too soft with Beijing.

President Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have been fighting for weeks over who can better protect the U.S. economy and its workers from China's economic expansion.

On Friday, the Obama administration made an unusual and dramatic move - Obama blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon. It’s the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president has blocked such a foreign business deal.

Obama cited national security - the wind farms are all in the vicinity of restricted air space - and he followed the recommendations of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Obama Knocks Down Chinese Investment in US
In a sudden and unexpected move, the Obama administration blocked a Chinese firm from building and owning wind turbines in the US. Eamon Javers has details.

However, in quiet corners of our nation’s capital you may see Republicans gnashing their teeth - charging that the move was as much political as it was anything else.

Skeptics likely see it as another attempt to woo more voters in key swing states, especially states where workers in the manufacturing industry have been hard-hit by outsourcing. (Read More: Obama Leads Romney in Three More Swing States)

The announcement comes days after Mitt Romney charged that the White House was being too acquiescent in its dealings with Beijing. If elected, Romney has vowed to call China on the carpet for unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation and more.

Although the wind farm issue is making headlines, it’s hardly the first time China has landed in the cross hairs of either candidate.

Over the past 3 months alone, the White House has filed two major cases at the World Trade Organization, both of which the President promoted to autoworkers in the Rust Belt.

And both campaigns have started to run ads on China in battleground states.

In case you're wondering why this issue has become so politically charged, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, the trade imbalance with China cost America 2.7 million jobs between 2001 and 2011.

Tune in:

"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.

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  • Lawrence Kudlow is a CNBC senior contributor. Previously, Kudlow was anchor of CNBC's prime-time program "The Kudlow Report"