Romney then told a story he mentions occasionally at campaign stops of a time when, during his term as governor of Massachusetts, he was awed when a huge crowd spontaneously paid tribute to a slain soldier whose remains Romney was greeting at the airport.

In the days since the attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, Romney has accused Obama of showing weakness on foreign policy in the Middle East. Democrats have complained that Romney is politicizing a national tragedy.

Romney’s campaign has not shown any other sign of retreating from the foreign-policy attacks on the president, but the GOP candidate did not pursue them at the Ohio event on Friday.

Instead, Romney focused on the campaign's simultaneous attacks on Obama's trade policy.

In recent days, Romney released an ad slamming the president's record on manufacturing jobs. He argued that the president has allowed China to manipulate its currency unchecked.

"I will call China a currency manipulator and stop them in their tracks from killing American jobs," Romney declared.

While Romney acknowledged that currency manipulation "sounds like the kind of stuff they talk about in classrooms," he said that America "can't let that go year after year after year."

The Obama campaign responded sharply to Romney.

“Mitt Romney paid lip service to American workers today, but offered no solutions to improve their lives now,” Danny Kanner, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement.

“If Mitt Romney really cared about holding China accountable, he wouldn’t have criticized the president for standing up to China on behalf of American tire workers, he wouldn’t continue to hold investments there and he wouldn’t have proposed a tax plan that could create hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas, including jobs in China.”

Romney said his own economic plan was something developed from years of business experience.

"I didn't learn those things in a schoolbook," Romney said. "I didn't talk about them in a meeting. Those are the things I learned … over 25 years of creating jobs."