President Obama said Wednesday the 2012 election will be more of a referendum on his leadership of the country than a choice between him and the ultimate Republican nominee.
"If next November (voters) feel like I've been on their side, and I've been working as hard as I can, and I've been getting some things done to move us in the right direction, I'll win," Obama told KMBC-TV, a Kansas City ABC affiliate, in an interview. "If they don't, then I'll lose. And that's not to say the other candidate is irrelevant. But it does mean I'll probably win or lose based on their assessment of my stewardship."
Obama's comments came in response to a question about his assessment of the GOP field and which candidate he believes can beat him. The president declined to name a specific contender, insisting he's been too focused on running the country to worry about it.
But acknowledging the nation's dismal economy could weigh heavily on his bid for re-election, Obama said he believes voters "understand" that the nation's problems didn't erupt "overnight" and won't be "solved overnight."
"Ultimately I believe I'll be judged based on the American people believing that I'm fighting for them, and that in a very difficult set of circumstances that we've made good decisions that have helped move us in the right direction," he said. "But what they're going to be asking themselves is who has got a better vision for moving the country forward."
Obama's sitdown with KMBC was the latest in a string of outreach to local TV stations in key battleground states in recent months. As Tribune's Mike Memoli notes, Obama has granted interviews to local stations in 16 states since February, most of them key 2012 battleground states.