PORTSMOUTH, Ohio —
Ryan said the president had led the country toward a higher national debt, steeper taxes and insufficient job growth.
"We can't keep going down this path," he said. "We can't keep accepting this is the new normal."
The Wisconsin congressman then hopscotched to Bowling Green State University, in the northwestern part of the state, where he grabbed a bratwurst with mustard at the college Republicans' tailgate party before the school's football team took on his alma mater, Miami (Ohio) University.
The Obama campaign dismissed the Republicans' tough talk on China as nothing more than talk.
"Mitt Romney will never crack down on China's cheating — just look at his record," Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement. He said Romney had opposed Obama administration efforts to impose tariffs on Chinese-made tires and had invested in companies that shipped American jobs to China.
Obama's campaign upped its celebrity quotient as the two sides claw for any advantage in a tight race: Actor Morgan Freeman's commanding voice narrates a new ad telling voters that Obama has met the nation's challenges and "the last thing we should do is turn back now."
On Thursday, Bruce Springsteen will team up with former President Bill Clinton to rally Obama voters in Parma, Ohio, in what will be the singer's first political appearance this campaign. "The Boss" plans a second event Thursday, in Ames, Iowa. Springsteen campaigned for Obama in 2008, too.
Both sides are devoting huge time and effort to Ohio, this year's battleground to end all battlegrounds, where polls show Obama with a slight edge over Romney. Saturday's emphasis by the two sides on the auto industry and manufacturing jobs was designed to connect with blue-collar voters there.