That new strategy will involve a renewed focus on China and trade policy — a particularly salient issue as both candidates travel extensively in the manufacturing-oriented state of Ohio this week. Obama has consistently held a small lead in polls of the Buckeye State, and no Republican has ever won the presidency without securing Ohio.
"I think it's clear that the message on China has resonated not only with the voters, but you can tell with the response from the Obama campaign," Gillespie said. "They went up with an ad in response to it on China, and on top of that, the administration filed a case."
Gillespie was referencing a World Trade Organization case filed last week by the Obama administration charging China with unfairly subsidizing automobile parts. Romney had begun airing ads accusing Obama of being too lenient with China a few days before.
I've written before on how a turn to manufacturing could be helpful to the Romney campaign. The rust-belt is in many ways an untapped political goldmine for Republicans: a message on industrial restoration could not only shore up Romney's standing in Ohio but could also improve the campaign's chances in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Both states have played a key role on the "Blue Wall" that have given Democrats a floor of 250 electoral votes over the past twenty years. If Romney can challenge Democrats there, he opens up the map (and his path to the presidency) considerably.
Via NRO: a memo by Romney campaign advisor Ed Gillespie that elaborates on this economic message and a new ad hitting the Obama administration's record on trade.