BALTIMORE - As some high-profile Democrats question the focus of his pitch for a second term, President Obama today stuck closely to his well-worn script, telling a group of 500 donors here that the economy is moving in the right direction and that his policies will accelerate the recovery.
"With grit, resilience and innovation, we're fighting our way back," Obama said, citing a resurgence of the U.S. manufacturing sector and creation of 4.3 million private sector jobs over the last 27 months.
"Does this make us satisfied? No," he said, "not when so many folks who are out there looking for work, not when so many homes are still underwater, not when so many states laying off so many teachers and first responders.
"This crisis did not happen overnight, it will be solved overnight," he added.
The message, which Obama has been pushing for months, faces new scrutiny from Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg, among others, who insist it isn't resonating with voters in key states. Several recent focus groups found that voters don't see signs of economic recovery, putting Obama at risk of seeming out of touch.
More on the Carville/Greenberg memo HERE .
Still, Obama insisted that a recovery is well underway and argued it's "stronger than the one following the last recession."
"We recovered more effectively than most other advanced nations," he said. "But the hole we have to fill is deeper. And global aftershocks are great."
It's an argument that would seem to be an increasingly hard sell to Americans without jobs and facing other financial pressures.
"We've got more work to do. We know that," Obama conceded. "We also understand that the last thing we can do is return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place," he added, referring to rival Mitt Romney.
Obama spent much of his stump outlining reasons why Romney should be feared, suggesting the Republican nominee would keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond a planned 2014 withdrawal, raise taxes on the middle class, outlaw abortion, and reinstate "don't ask don't tell."
He spoke broadly about a forward-looking vision for his second term, suggesting he would advocate comprehensive immigration reform, push for greater government investment in infrastructure projects and boost access to higher education.
"If you're willing to stick with me and fight with me," he said, "I guarantee we will move this country forward."
President Obama is expected to give his first public, campaign policy speech on Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio when he will seek to re-frame the economic debate between him and Romney, while speaking broadly about his plans to boost jobs and the middle class.