At one point on Wednesday, the two candidates spoke from different sections of northern Ohio at the same time, their scenery as different as their message.
At a factory in Bedford Heights, Romney appeared on a stage surrounded by visual evidence of Ohio's manufacturing base -- giant coils of steel wire, metal beams, yellow "caution" signs - and spoke as machines whirred in the background. He appeared with Mike Rowe, an everyman TV personality and pitchman.
Obama appeared at two packed college basketball arenas, delivering his message first to a boisterous crowd of more than 5,000 at Bowling Green State University and then to 6,000 screaming supporters at Kent State University.
He said a student who introduced him broke his wrist during a game of ultimate Frisbee. Exhorting the crowd to vote, he said, "You got to play through injuries."
The campaigns tried, too, for footholds on other fronts.
Both sides kept up their attempts to paint each other as weak in dealing with China, efforts aimed at wooing support from working-class voters whose jobs might suffer from imports from China.
The Romney campaign has started setting up flat-screen TV monitors at its events to screen a video about his personal and business story. It was first aired at the Republican National Convention as a way to introduce him to America but went unseen by most viewers because it did not run during prime-time coverage.
Romney also focused Wednesday on interest paid on the national debt, a subject he hasn't regularly discussed in his standard campaign speech. His comments came after a Washington Post poll showed the federal debt and deficit are the one set of issues where he has an advantage over Obama with likely voters.
Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, took a sharper approach. He told radio host Sean Hannity that Obama was using hollow tactics to paint his opponents as evil.
"He's basically trying to say 'If you want any security in your life stick with me. If you go with these Republicans they're going to feed you to the wolves. It's going to be a dog-eat-dog society,'" Ryan said.
In recent weeks, Romney has lost his polling edge on the economy generally, with more people saying they now trust Obama to fix the nation's economic woes.
Fighting back, new Republican-leaning independent groups jumped in Wednesday with advertising aimed at voters who supported Obama in 2008 but are undecided now. The commercials join those from the campaigns and outside groups swamping a narrow and possibly shrinking map of competitive states.
"I will say that as time progresses, the field is looking like it's narrowing for them," said Psaki, the Obama campaign spokeswoman. "In that sense, we'd rather be us than them."
The president, though, did have his own ups and downs.
Air Force One aborted its approach into Toledo because of bad weather, forcing the commander of the presidential plane to circle the airfield.
The second try was a success without incident.