If you believe President Obama, having achieved some historic policy achievements in just two years in office, is resting on his laurels going into his re-election, think again. He hinted as much at a fundraiser this week: "We're just a quarter of the way through and we've got to make sure that we finish our task."
With ad-libs mingled into his prepared speeches, Obama is beginning to settle on the major issues he plans to talk up when making the case for his re-election in 2012. Looking through his recent party addresses, the following top issues emerge as the favorites he likes to talk about.
1. Education. Obama ties investments in education to potential job growth. And he has put the spotlight on college education and boosting graduation rates. Typically he talks about "stepping up our game" in education.
2. Infrastructure. More than just rebuilding bridges and roads, Obama uses this issue to highlight his plans for high-speed rail, a new energy grid and expanded broadband.
3. Immigration. Obama has just begun his push for immigration reform, which has some bipartisan support, though it is viewed more as political outreach to Hispanics than a plan he really expects to pass Congress.
4. Ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' At his Washington, D.C. fundraiser this week, he highlighted the issue, saying, "We've made sure that you can serve in our military regardless of who you love,"
5. Killing Osama bin Laden. Of all the applause lines he will deliver, this should return the loudest cheers. [See photos of reactions to bin Laden's death.]
6. Withdrawing from Iraq. Making good on his promise to draw down troop strength in Iraq will shore up support among his progressive critics.
7. Financial reform. The issue plays into a larger image of Obama taking on corporate bad guys, though he rarely talks up financial reform's twin, the stimulus package.
8. Energy. As gas prices continue to stay high, he will criticize oil company profits and pledge to offset the "whims of the spot oil market."
9. Supreme Court Picks. Obama hopes to get more chances to add judges to the court, possibly ending its conservative majority. What's more, he notes with pride that he appointed two women to serve. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]
10. Healthcare reform. This issue, his crowing achievement, always gets a shout out with a plea to help protect it. At a the fundraiser this week, he said, "We achieved what had eluded this country for a hundred years—putting in place a structure so that nobody will go bankrupt when they get sick; everybody has access to affordable healthcare. But we've got to make sure that it gets implemented and that we follow through."