[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/07/28/candidates.economy/art.obama2.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Barack Obama holds an economic roundtable in Washington on Monday."]
CNN Political Analyst
Sen. Barack Obama's trip abroad was a very smartly stage-managed extravaganza, and it may well have accomplished the goal of the campaign: to assuage Americans that Obama can stand toe to toe with foreign leaders.
Sen. Barack Obama holds an economic roundtable in Washington on Monday.
It's not as if he got a great bounce out of the trip: While his poll numbers did increase slightly, some of the numbers in key battleground states appeared to close. So it's hard to tell this soon.
What we do know is that neither Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, nor Sen. John McCain, the probable Republican nominee, can get to the magic 50 percent number in the polls, and that's not great for either fellow.
Both know they have lots of work left. And it's on the economy.
Obama had barely landed from London, England, when he was playing host to a D.C.-based economic confab including some of America's best-known economic gurus - Warren Buffet, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker and former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin (can you spell Hillary Clinton supporter?), not to mention Paul O'Neill (who wrote a kiss-and-tell about his days as George W. Bush's treasury secretary).
The Obama campaign understands full well that, despite his need to shore up his commander-in-chief credentials, he also needs to let voters know he can handle their economic anxieties.
Both fellows need some help, and they're getting it. In fact, it's ironic, in a way, that neither candidate's strong suit is the economy: McCain once famously admitted that it's not his area of expertise, and Obama has a very short history of dealing with national economic issues.
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