Gulf state residents were glad to have the president step up publicly, but some felt he was oddly disconnected when he talked about only a few beaches covered in oil.
"Except for three beaches in Louisiana, all of the Gulf's beaches are open, they are safe and they are clean," Obama said at the news conference.
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports residents who could be in the oil's path know hundreds of miles of shoreline are threatened.
"If they don't bring in more help," said one concerned resident, "the damage is going to be unreal - just beyond all of our imaginations."
Obama didn't directly answer when the press asked why tankers haven't been sent in to vacuum up the oil.
Other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, have offered help - but haven't had their offers taken up. In response, Obama said, "in some cases, more many not actually be better. And decisions have been made based on the best information available that says here's what we need right now."
Some residents said they'd "feel better" when Obama comes down and sees what's not being done.
But the awkward moment of the day came when, at the very time the President couldn't shed light on the high-level departure of Elizabeth Birnbaum from MMS - the controversial oil oversight agency.
"I found out about it this morning. So I don't know yet the circumstances and Ken Salazar has been in testimony on the Hill," Obama said.
Despite Obama's assurances, Congress Thursday heard from victims and survivors who worry about the government's commitment to make BP accountable.
Keith Jones got choked up when describing his son Gordon. "Gordon will never be back, never. Neither will the ten good men who died with him."
Gordon's son Maxwell was born three weeks after his father died. His grandfather told Congress there's only one way to make those responsible care.
"You must make certain they are exposed to pain in the only place they can feel it - their bank accounts," Keith Jones said. "As a friend recently said, make them hurt where their heart would be, if they had a heart."
After the president was asked what was taking so long Thursday, the federal government approved part of Louisiana's proposal to build barrier islands to block oil.