Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan went back to school on Saturday to rally college students in all corners of all-important Ohio and hammer at President Barack Obama for going easy on China over unfair trade practices that they said are costing American jobs. Obama took precious time off the campaign trail to practice for the next debate against his GOP rival.

It was an unspoken acknowledgment of the importance that Obama attaches to upping his game in Debate No.2 that the president is largely dropping out of sight for five straight days in the final weeks of the race to prepare for Tuesday’s encounter in Hempstead, N .Y.

Even while cloistered for debate prep at a resort in Williamsburg, Va., though, the president didn’t completely cede the spotlight to Romney. His weekly radio and Internet address highlighted the Obama administration’s work to revive the U.S. auto industry — a message aimed squarely at working-class voters in manufacturing-heavy states like Ohio.