Still, the general election campaign is expected to come down to which contender has better answers for people looking for a job, a better career, a way to keep their house, a sense of security.
"The three most important issues of the election are the economy, the economy and the economy," Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said.
Indeed, an Associated Press-GfK poll of issues last month found 91 percent of people said the economy was highly important to them. Obama's team says the choice for voters is about restoring American security for all or going back to a free-for-all approach that led to the crisis. Republicans say he's failed to lead.
The White House isn't out to make this election about foreign policy, but Gibbs said "I don't think it hurts" if the conversation turns that way.
Obama has a story to tell on the killing of Osama bin Laden, the ending of the war in Iraq, the squeezing of Iran through sanctions.
The direction of the war in Afghanistan has been on that list too. But now it's a question, and Obama has to answer.
Afghanistan is raging with anti-Americanism after U.S. troops burned Qurans last month and, over the weekend, a soldier allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians and burned many of the bodies.
Obama was questioned about the horrific incident by television reporters from around the nation. They had been invited to the White House to talk about energy, but they pushed him on when the U.S. will be getting out of Afghanistan too. Obama said the United States must not rush to the exits.
So the timetable remains: the end of 2014, at the latest, for Americans to get out of a combat role in Afghanistan.
And this one: a little under nine months left for any issue in the world to rock Obama's re-election bid.
White House Correspondent Ben Feller has covered the Obama and George W. Bush presidencies for The Associated Press. AP Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.
An AP News Analysis
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