Obama zeroes in on colleges in swing states

U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he arrives on stage for a campaign event at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, on September 2, 2012.

(CBS News) BOULDER, Colo. - If there was any doubt about the importance of battleground states just look at the president's agenda. Sunday was the eighth time President Obama has been to Colorado just this year. He is campaigning there in advance of the Democratic National Convention, starting Tuesday.

In Boulder, the president argued that Governor Romney failed to explain where he would take the country when he had the national spotlight at the Republican National Convention. President Obama told the crowd his convention speech will look forward. Republicans say that's only because he's trying to avoid talking about his past four years.

The president's visit to the University of Colorado was his sixth trip to a college campus in the past two weeks.

He told a crowd of 13,000 that he could win Colorado if they and their friends showed up at the polls.

"We have set up a Rocky Mountain rumble to see what school can register more voters, CU or Colorado State," Mr. Obama said.

The president won 72 percent of the vote in this college town four years ago. He'll need a similar margin this year if he wants to keep Colorado's 9 electoral votes.

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Some students here say they are enthusiastic about the Obama campaign, but worry there is a sense of complacency among younger voters.

A recent poll showed Governor Romney leading by 5 points in this battleground state.

Romney was in Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, sticking with a major theme from his convention speech, saying Mr. Obama had let down working Americans.

"One of the promises he made was he was going to create more jobs, and today 23 million people are out of work or stopped working for look or are underemployed. Let me tell you, if you have a coach that is zero and 23 million, you say it's time to get a new coach," Romney said.

On foreign policy, Democrats are working to portray Romney as naive and recklessly hawkish.

On Sunday in Pennsylvania, Vice President Joe Biden said of Romney: "He said it was a mistake to end the war in Iraq and bring all of our warriors home. He said it was a mistake to set an end date for our warriors in Afghanistan and bring them home. He implies by the speech that he's ready to go to war in Syria and Iran."

Biden was referring to this remark in Romney's convention speech: "Every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran's nuclear threat."

Strip away the rhetoric, and the two sides aren't that different on Iran. Both say the military option should remain on the table. On Syria, both say they would strongly consider engaging the militarily if Assad transports chemical weapons or uses them on his people.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.