"It's game day in America," Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters traveling with the president. She noted that Thursday marked the start of early voting in Iowa and that Virginia was sending out absentee ballots.
Obama drove home his commercial's message at the rally, promoting the "new economic patriotism" as rooted in a belief that a growing economy begins with a strong middle class. "I don't think we can get very far with leaders who write off half the nation as a bunch of victims, who never take responsibility for their own lives," Obama said.
Romney argued Obama doesn't deserve another chance to improve the economy, pointing to the Commerce Department's announcement hours earlier of sluggish economic growth in the last quarter. The growth rate was lowered from a previous estimate of 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent for April-June because of the severe drought that reduced farm production in the Midwest.
"Our economy needs to be reinvigorated," he said. "We can't afford four more years of the last four years."
In Virginia, where the military is crucial, Romney said the pending defense spending cuts would devastate the military and eliminate jobs in the state. He said it is "unthinkable" that the U.S. would cut its commitment to the military in a world that remains "troubled and dangerous."
Romney and other Republicans have tried to blame Obama alone for the defense cuts, especially in Virginia. But the GOP overwhelmingly backed the reductions when Congress passed the legislation in August 2011.
Romney has said it was "a mistake" for Republicans to agree to the deal.
Amid both campaigns' hunt for working-class voters, Romney released a new ad Thursday aimed at coal miners. It included video of Obama as a candidate in 2008 saying he would support laws to force emitters of greenhouse gases to buy allowances at auction. "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them," Obama says in the ad.