While some candidates in tonight's Bloomberg/The Washington Post Republican Presidential Debate at Dartmouth College had a chance to respond to questions about the China currency manipulation bill that passed the Senate tonight, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) did not.


But in an exclusive interview with Raw Story, senior aide Jesse Benton responded both to the question and former Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) insistence that it's important to "go to war" with China. Unsurprisingly, he said the Congressman strongly disagrees with both assertions.

"The last thing we need is to be egging on a trade war with China right now," Benton asserted.

As to former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) promise, if elected, to issue an executive order declaring that China manipulates its currency and bring a case against them at the WTO, Benton said that Paul would act differently. "Congressman Paul would have us withdraw from the WTO, so I am sure you can understand how he would be very, very negative about a president trying to go to the WTO to stoke tariffs." He added, "Tariffs would be turned around to be a tax on the American people."

But the Congressman isn't entirely deaf to concerns that China is manipulating its currency. "Yes, China does manipulate its currency, and that's a bad thing," Benton said. "But we should stop manipulating our own currency and fix our own regulatory problems so we can compete." He added, "Then we'll have a lot more moral high ground to criticize them and do it from a position of friendship rather than going to international trade bodies."

But as to Santorum's assertion that he wants a war with China, Benton didn't have a rejoinder. "You'll have to ask Rick about that," he told Raw Story.