Romney is running ads tying Obama to the government's $16 trillion debt, notably in a recent spot showing a baby and talking about the debt she was inheriting.
Obama has pointed out that Romney's plans would mean even more debt.
Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, was responsible for a huge chunk of the debt boom. When he took office in 2001, the figure was $5.7 trillion. Because of tax cuts, a new Medicare drug program, war spending and other factors, the debt was $10.6 trillion when he left office eight years later.
Both Obama and Romney would add trillions more to the debt over the coming decade.
On jobs, Romney is expected to offer frequent reminders that the jobless rate went over 8 percent during Obama's first full month in office in February 2009 and has never dropped below that level. That's the longest stretch over 8 percent since such records started 64 years ago.
The nation lost about 7.9 million jobs during the December 2007-June 2009 recession — most of which occurred during the Bush administration — but the pace of hiring has since lagged behind usual post-recession standards.
Romney maintains his incentives for business would help create 12 million jobs over four years. Obama is likely to tout his American Jobs Act, which would provide government spending on public works projects as well as incentives for business that would help create millions of jobs.
Both are expected to cite changes in the nation's tax system as key strategies for job creation. Romney will urge continuing the Bush-era tax cuts, set to expire at the end of this year, and further cut those rates 20 percent. He offers no details on how he would pay for his plan.
Obama wants to continue only the Bush cuts affecting families earning less than $250,000 or individuals making less than $200,000.
Stressing tax cuts could be valuable. Obama has to focus on the future and not the past three years, said Drew Lieberman, a Democratic political consultant in Washington.
"He needs to resist the temptation to look backward and defend the last three years and keep it focused on the future," he said.
Obama and Romney are scheduled to debate again Oct. 16 and 22. Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, will debate Oct. 11.
©2012 McClatchy Washington Bureau