ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Mitt Romney's day began in Iowa and ends in Ohio and that's where President Obama is as well for an evening rally in Columbus. NPR's Scott Horsley is already in Columbus and he joins us now. And Scott, the reaction to last week's debate has been mostly negative for President Obama. Are his Ohio supporters worried about that?
SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Well, Robert, I didn't hear a lot of panic among Obama supporters who gathered today at Ohio State University, although most of them admit they think Governor Romney had the better night in that debate last week. Obviously, when you talk to people at an Obama rally, you're not getting a random cross-section of Ohio voters.
But I was curious if maybe they're devotion to the president had been shaken a little bit and I didn't find that. Ashley Peterson(ph) was sort of typical of the people I talked to about the debate. She's a grad student here at Ohio State and she calls herself a diehard Obama supporter.
ASHLEY PETERSON: It wasn't his best performance, but he did okay. There are two more debates and so we should wait to see how those other two go.
HORSLEY: Some of the supporters I spoke with did say they expect that Mr. Obama will get tougher in his next meeting with Governor Romney. That comes one week from today.
SIEGEL: Well, has the Democratic campaign signaled any change of strategy in Ohio?
HORSLEY: No. In fact, they say they always expected this race would get tighter and they're sticking to their long-range plan. The president hit the same notes in today's rally that he has on earlier visits to Ohio. And there have been a lot of earlier visits to this state. He's spent enough time here to qualify for in-state tuition, I think.
This evening, he reminded voters about the auto bailout that he championed and that Governor Romney opposed. That's contributed to Ohio's better-than-average economy. He also pointed to last week's drop in the national unemployment rate. And he responded to Governor Romney's foreign policy speech yesterday, saying he disagrees with Romney that the U.S. acted too hastily in pulling troops out of Iraq. Mr. Obama sees that troop withdrawal as a campaign promise that he kept.
SIEGEL: Now, Scott, today is the deadline to register to vote in Ohio. Are Obama volunteers out with clipboards signing people up?
HORSLEY: They absolutely are, although many of the people I talked to in the crowd here were already registered. And the president urged them to go a step further and actually take advantage of early voting here in Ohio. In fact, the campaign had buses at the rally to take people to an early voting location, so they could cast their ballots tonight. The Obama campaign has invested a lot in the get out the vote effort here in Ohio and in other battleground states across the country.
That can be a big difference in a very close race. And increasingly, this looks like it will be a close race.
SIEGEL: Okay. Thanks, Scott.
HORSLEY: My pleasure, Robert.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Scott Horsley, who is watching the Obama campaign. Today he is in Ohio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.