Barack Obama has laid out the theme his party will hammer home at the Democratic National convention this week, declaring Republican challenger Mitt Romney wants to lead the country with failed and outdated ideas that harken to the last century.
The president was speaking in a pre-convention campaign swing to members of the United Auto Workers Union in Toledo, a city like many in Ohio where the economy is heavily dependent on the car industry.
Mr Obama injected that industry with huge amounts of government money in the earliest days of his administration, preventing General Motors and Chrysler Corp from probably going out of business and laying off more than one million workers.
Mr Romney opposed the bailout and accuses the president of profligate government spending that Republicans contend has done little to lift the country out of the economic morass.
The Republicans showed their political arguments last week during their convention that officially nominated Mr Romney in Tampa, Florida. The theme of that gathering: Obama is a failed president.
The Democrats are fighting back and Mr Obama said that watching the Republicans was like seeing an old television programme in black and white.
Ohio is perhaps the most critical state for both candidates on November 6, Election Day. It is one of seven so-called swing states that will determine the outcome of the vote. Those states do not reliably vote for the presidential candidate of one party or the other.
Since the US president is not chosen by the nationwide popular vote but in state-by-state contests, the swing states have outsized influence and receive the bulk of campaign attention from the candidates.
As Mr Obama issued a rousing call for the support of working men and women on Labour Day his campaign surrogates were trying to put their economic message back in positive territory.
The campaign was trying to recoup after a weekend in which key Democrats acknowledge Republican claims that Americans are not better off four years after the president swept into the White House on a message of hope and change.