DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has delivered a constant stream of criticism of President Obama, but he still confronts Republican voters who haven't heard enough.
GREENE: On a hidden videotape revealed this month, Romney was asked why he didn't hammer President Obama harder. He explained that he's trying to win over people who voted for the president in 2008.
INSKEEP: As we going to hear, the same question came up again, as Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, fought for Ohio, a state so vital it would be hard for them to win without it.
NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: No Republican in modern history has made it to the White House without Ohio, so revving up voters here is a must.
PAUL RYAN: O-H.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I-O.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: I-O.
RYAN: Works every time.
ELLIOTT: Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is a neighbor, and went to college here - at Miami of Ohio, so he's been working the locals this week. He brags that he carries a lucky buckeye from the Buckeye state for good luck. And he stopped at a Bass Pro Shops yesterday to buy his daughter camouflaged deer hunting gear.
RYAN: I got her a rifle for Christmas last year, and so I'm getting her ready to go.
ELLIOTT: Earlier, in a dusty steel warehouse in Cincinnati, Ryan talked about the state's key role in presidential elections.
RYAN: Ohioans, you have a huge say so in this. You have a big responsibility. You have a big opportunity. I think you're used to being targeted. I think you're used to being, you know, one of those battleground states. And within your power is the ability to very well decide; not just who is going to be the next president of the United States, but what kind of country we're going to have.
ELLIOTT: Governor Mitt Romney joined Ryan yesterday afternoon for a rally in Dayton.
MITT ROMNEY: Wow - that's quite a guy, isn't it. Paul Ryan? Isn't that something?
ELLIOTT: He continued the theme about this election being about the where the country is going.
ROMNEY: This is an election which is dramatic choice for the American people. It's a question about the soul of America.
ELLIOTT: Romney also sharpened his swipes at President Obama. On the economy...
ROMNEY: This is a president who is bent on growing government. I am bent on growing jobs and raising take home pay - and we'll do it.
ELLIOTT: And on foreign policy - arguing he'd be a stronger world leader.
ROMNEY: When we have an ambassador assassinated, when we have 20,000 people killed in Syria, when we have a Muslim Brotherhood leader become the new president of Egypt, when we have Iran moving closer and closer to nuclear weaponry, we don't have a president calling these things bumps in the road, we have a president who takes this serious and gets America on track to shape world affairs.
ELLIOTT: Afterward, Kay Blake of Middleton said she was glad to hear Romney take on the president's foreign policy.
KAY BLAKE: I get the impression from Obama that we're supposed to level out. We're not allowed to say that we're good, we're not allowed to say that we're, you know, we're a top power. He really doesn't want that for us.
ELLIOTT: Donna Wilberding, a retired school teacher Piqua, Ohio, would like to see Romney and Ryan focus a little harsher on the president.
DONNA WILBERDING: I think they need to get tough. I get a little tired of our gentle old party. They're good men but they're so gentle. They need to show their passion. They don't' have to be what they're not. You know, he's not going to be a razzle-dazzle, let's go have a beer. But I think they just need to get more fired up.
INSKEEP: Romney will try to show some of that fire today as he campaigns in Westerville, Bedford Heights and Toledo. But there will be competition when Ohio voters watch their local television news tonight.
ELLIOTT: President Obama makes appearances in Bowling Green and Kent.
Debbie Elliott, NPR News, Columbus, Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.