He spoke at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in a suburb of Chicago, his adopted hometown, just five weeks before an election in which Republicans are seen as having a better than even chance at taking control of the Senate and dooming the White House legislative agenda.
"Here's the bottom line," Obama said. "For all the work that remains, for all the citizens we still need to reach, what I want people to know is that there are some really good things happening in America."
He cited advances in energy production and new technology that have created new jobs. More money for education to retrain the workforce and put American educational standards more on a global standard.
His health care reform that provides assurances that an illness doesn't lead to bankruptcy. Reforms to the financial sector to prevent the kind of near-collapse that deepened and prolonged the Great Recession.
The president has spent weeks consumed with international crises and now the firestorm over failures by the Secret Service, the agency charged with protecting him. Obama's speech was designed to break out of those crises and talk economics and politics.
And voters still are keying on that issue. The new Associated Press-GfK poll shows that nine in 10 likely voters said the economy was an important issue, outpacing rising concerns about terrorism, ongoing concerns about health care, and the social issues that have led to sharp clashes on the campaign trail.