"We all know we still have a lot of work to do," Obama said.
"The question here tonight is not where we've been but where we're going."
Obama said that savings from winding down two wars should be used to rebuild infrastructure and reduce the deficit in a balanced way "to allow us to make critical investments."
He called for embracing "a new economic patriotism that says America does the best when the middle class does the best."
Romney countered that while he agreed with the overarching themes named by the president, job creation is a "tender topic."
During his campaign stops around the nation, the former Massachusetts governor said he told those he met that he can help them get work, but "it will take a different path, not the one we've been and on and not the one the president describes that cuts taxes for the rich.
"That's not what I'm going to do," he said.
Besides improving education and creating U.S. energy independence, Romney also called for opening up more trade in Latin America and cracking down on China if they cheat on the trade front.
"My priority is jobs," he said.
While he agreed that education is crucial to the future, he jabbed at the president for having 47 economic training programs spread across eight different agencies.
"We have to get those dollars back to the states and go to the workers so they can create their own path forward to get the training they need for jobs that will really help them," Romney said.
He also called for championing small business and said, "I know what it takes to get small business growing again to hire."
But he said he is concerned because the United States on a path that has been unsuccessful and said the president wants bigger government and more regulations.
"I want to restore vitality that gets America working again."