Romney has not made many campaign appearances in the Chicago area, opting instead for closed events to raise campaign cash.
Romney was greeting donors inside the Public Hotel's Pump Room on the Gold Coast. He is expected to pick up $3.3 million raised by Illinois Republicans.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, chair of Romney's campaign in Illinois, has supported Romney for president since the 2008 Republican presidential primary. And while President Obama is favored to win Illinois' 20 electoral college votes, Rutherford says presumptive GOP nominee Romney will return to the area on low-key visits in 2012 to tap the Chicago area's wealthy campaign donors.
" He has a lot of friends here and raising money, and in fact we have a lot of people with all respect that were with candidate Obama four years ago that are now with candidate Romney," said Rutherford.
Both Romney and the president stumped in Ohio, an important swing state. The president debuted what was called his campaign framework, appealing to the country's middle class.
"This is a make or break moment for America's middle class and I believe it," Obama said. "The decisions we make in the next few years, on everything from death and taxes and debt and energy and education, will have an enormous impact on this country."
Romney pressed a central theme of his campaign: blaming Obama for the nation's persistent economic problems.
"He's going to be saying today that he wants for four more years," said Romney. "He may have forgotten he talked about a one-term proposition if he couldn't get the economy turned around in three years, but we're going to hold him to his word."
While acknowledging Romney's underdog status in Illinois, campaign chairman Rutherford said the Republican ticket topper must at least make a strong enough showing in Chicago to help downballot congressional candidates.
"There's a number of contested congressional races here and one of the things, two things that Illinois can do for President Romney is one, help him get the money to get to the White House, and secondly, keep a Republican Congress," said Rutherford.