CINCINNATI - President Barack Obama took his re-election bid to Ohio Monday, the Cincinnati town hall event his eighth stop in the state this year and third in the last month.
The race for the White House will turn on who wins Ohio and who wins Ohio will depend on which candidate can convince the state's middle class voters that they are the one to lead the country over the next four years.
Different scenarios exist where the president could lose Ohio and still get the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House but historically no Republican has captured the presidency without winning Ohio.
"I think Ohio is one of a handful, maybe even two or three states where, as you said, if we win here we're likely to win," said President Obama, who sees the state's importance electorally yes but also as a bellwether for what people in all states are feeling.
"What's at stake for Ohio is representative of what's happening across the country. Ohio got hit harder than just about any state when it comes to manufacturing being shipped overseas, Ohio got hit very hard by the recession. Now you're seeing Ohio begin to bounce back in part because of the decisions we made to save the auto industry."
"We've got a long way to go, a lot of folks are still out of work," he said. "What we have to do is create the kind of atmosphere in terms of making sure we've got a well educated work force, great transportation systems and a tax code that rewards companies that invest here in Ohio," he said.
And that's where the president looked to draw a contrast with Romney by bringing up his experience in the private sector while leading Bain Capital. The president's team has run a series of ads accusing Romney of outsourcing jobs to China while at Bain.
The time in question is when Romney retired from Bain to run the 2002 Olympics ending his day-to-day operations with the company though his name remained on SEC filings as the man in charge after he left.
Romney's camp had called the president's charges demeaning, deceptive and dishonest and called for an apology. In Cincinnati, Obama said one would not be coming.
"We're not apologizing for asking Mr. Romney to tell the American people more about his business credentials because this is his main rationale for running for president. He says he's a business guy and he suggests that he can somehow fix the economy because of that."
"All we've asked is if in fact you've got a company who invested in what are called ‘pioneers of offshoring' and you take credit for any companies that were successful that you invested in then presumably you've got to take responsibility for practices that hurt a lot of Americans," Obama said.
"That is hardly a personal attack, that goes to the rationale for his candidacy and when he says that he was the CEO, chairman and president of this company which is his calling card, I think its entirely appropriate for us to say well then you got to be responsible for it."
When asked whether he thought Romney's actions were criminal as a top aide implied a few days earlier, the president steered away. "I think that the issue here is simply for Mr. Romney to talk about his business background in a way that jives with the facts," he said.