For months, all the major polls have identified the economy as the No. 1 presidential election issue. But it drifts in and out of focus on the campaign trail as first one side and then the other becomes occupied with something else.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney keeps trying to swing attention back to the dour jobs outlook and President Barack Obama's economic stewardship. But Romney keeps getting knocked off course.
Right now, he's trying to reset his campaign strategy, yet again, to spell out more clearly — in the nearly two weeks before the first presidential debate — just what he'd do as president to help lift Americans' economic plight.
But he's still reeling from the adverse fallout from his videotaped comments about Americans who don't pay taxes.
He's even got a new campaign line he's started using: "My campaign is about the 100 percent in America."
It's an attempted comeback from his controversial assertion in the video that "47 percent" of Americans don't pay income taxes, "see themselves as victims," and are dependent on the federal government.
Obama was also knocked off stride a bit by his "you didn't build that" remarks in July. And he's undergone campaign strategy resets several times.
Both Obama's and Romney's campaigns have been roiled by violence in the Middle East and the killings of four Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador.
Another reason the campaign dialogue shifts away from the economy so often is that nothing much has changed lately. Job creation and economic growth are proceeding at a glacial pace.
Both candidates were spending more time campaigning in swing states and both were in Florida on Thursday. Obama had events in the Miami area and in Tampa, Romney in Sarasota.
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