The White House stressed that Obama was committed to working with the Defense Department to "find a mission" for the Air National Guard base, but the local storyline played prominently during Obama's visit.
In Ohio, Republicans have pointed to the treatment of about 20,000 white-collar workers and retirees from auto parts supplier Delphi, which was spun off from General Motors. Many white-collar workers lost pension benefits while the pensions of union-affiliated employees and retirees were preserved during the auto bailout administered during the Obama administration.
"I feel absolutely betrayed," said Tom Rose, a former Delphi worker on a conference called arranged by the Republican National Committee.
Republicans have tried to put Obama on the defensive on other issues, including coal. GOP officials routinely cast Obama's policies as detrimental to coal, which is responsible for more than 40 percent of U.S. electricity production. Obama's advisers say that coal jobs have increased on his watch and are at their highest levels in 15 years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sparred with the mining industry over Clean Water Act-related permits, while Obama's administration has tried to cast its regulations as commonsense steps to reduce pollution that causes asthma and other lung problems.
Romney has tied coal jobs in Appalachia to a broader energy argument, saying he will make the U.S. energy independent from Venezuelan and Middle Eastern oil by the end of his second term. And he says the local issue could have much bigger consequences.
"To win Ohio, (Obama's) got to win eastern Ohio," Romney said in Beallsville. "And he's got to get the votes of the people in these communities all around us here. And you're not going to let that happen."
Kasie Hunt reported from Beallsville, Ohio. Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont and Philip Elliott in Des Moines, Iowa, and Brian Bakst in Minneapolis contributed to this report.