President Barack Obama said in an interview published hours before Mitt Romney was to accept the Republican nomination on Thursday that the former Massachusetts governor is a "very disciplined" man who "takes his faith very seriously."
Obama had been invited by Time magazine to list some traits of Romney "that you actually admire" beyond his commitment to his family and the health care overhaul that inspired the president's approach, widely known as Obamacare.
"Well, you took away a couple," Obama began.
"He strikes me as somebody who is very disciplined. And I think that that is a quality that obviously contributed to his success as a private-equity guy," the president said.
"I think he takes his faith very seriously. And as somebody who takes my Christian faith seriously, I appreciate that he seems to walk the walk and not just be talking the talk when it comes to his participation in his church," Obama said.
The president also repeated a key argument of his campaign--that he would help the middle class while Romney's approach to the economy would be to favor the very wealthy. And he vowed that immigration reform would be a priority if he wins a second term.
Obama also defended his view that one of his most notable mistakes over the past three-and-a-half years was failing to sell his policies to the American people.
"What I meant by that is that we were in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, so we had to just do stuff fast," the president said. "And sometimes it wasn't popular. And we didn't have the luxury of six months to explain exactly what we were doing with the Recovery Act, which was basically a jobs act and making-sure-middle-class-families-didn't-fall-into-poverty act." (Republicans have slammed the Recovery Act—the nearly one trillion dollar economic stimulus package—as wasteful government overreach. Independent economists have credited it with creating between 200,000 and 2.6 million jobs).
"There were all kinds of things we could do to have explained that effectively, but we didn't have time," he said, listing the bailout of the auto industry as another example.
"That's a story I'm doing my best to tell during the campaign. That's a story I will continue to try to tell, if I'm fortunate enough to have a second term," Obama said. "I want to make sure that people understand that I've got a focus on growing this economy."
The Romney campaign pounced. Spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement emailed to reporters that "America doesn't need a storyteller-in-chief."
"We need a leader who will work to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and turn around our economy," Williams said.