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In painstaking detail, Mr. Obama denounced the Bush-era economic and policy choices that Mr. Obama said Mr. Romney and Republicans support even though they led to the global economic crisis of late 2008 — tax cuts for the wealthy, deficit spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deregulation that allowed banks and corporations to run wild and swindle consumers.

“We were told that huge tax cuts — especially for the wealthiest Americans — would lead to faster job growth,” he said. “We were told that fewer regulations — especially for big financial institutions and corporations — would bring about widespread prosperity. We were told that it was OK to put two wars on the nation’s credit card, that tax cuts would create enough growth to pay for themselves. That’s what we were told. So how did this economic theory work out?”

“Terrible,” one member of the audience shouted out.

The crowd of roughly 1,500 chanted “Four more years” and “Fired up and ready to go” at the beginning of the speech and at times during it.

But there were few rousing applause lines and at times the hourlong remarks seemed to ramble and repeat various refrains Mr. Obama has been pushing for months, including his desire to “double-down on” spending on clean energy, technology, infrastructure and education as a way to help boost the economy.

Both Mr. Obama’s and Mr. Romney’s campaigns have dumped more money into Ohio than other states, and their dueling visits Thursday show just how strongly the two are competing for the state’s 18 electoral votes.

Ohio has played a critical role in determining the winner in the past few presidential contests. Mr. Obama won the state in 2008, and Mr. Bush took it in 2004. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.

Polls show the two men running neck and neck in Ohio with Mr. Obama ahead by a statistically insignificant 1percentage point. But Ohio, whose unemployment rate is 7.4 percent — nearly a full point below the national average — is faring better than many other areas of the country, and the Obama team is eager to credit the auto bailout as one of the reasons.

“When my opponent was arguing that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we made a bet on American ingenuity, and today our auto industry is back,” Mr. Obama said.

The president planned to spend the evening at a star-studded fundraiser in Manhattan at the home of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick and co-hosted by Anna Wintour.