POSTED: Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 4:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Kicking off his bus trip to the battlegrounds of Ohio and Pennsylvania, President Obama went to Maumee, near Toledo, Ohio and Detroit on Wednesday.
It's blue collar, car-making country.
He claimed he saved a million auto industry jobs.
"Governor Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt. That's what he said!" the president reminded them. "I refused to turn back on communities like this one...and three years later the American auto industry is coming roaring back!"
Unemployment in Ohio and Pennsylvania is almost a point below the national average.
Mitt Romney knows no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.
As Romney took time off to go boating, two men said to be under consideration as running mates, Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal, went to Ohio to counter the Obama trip.
"Half of our graduates will be unemployed or underemployed coming out of college thanks to this president's policies," Jindal told supporters.
"With Obamacare he promised that health care costs would go down and no one could lose their health insurance, that can keep it and now all the credible studies show that healthcare costs are going up," Pawlenty claimed.
Still, the president believes the popularity of his health care plan is going up after the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.
"I'll work with anybody who wants to work with me to continue to improve our health car system and our health care law, but the law I passed is here to stay," he vowed.
It's the essence of the race for the White House, with the election now 18 weeks away.