WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday that he is not worrying about his re-election prospects in 2012 at this juncture and is focusing on the U.S. economy.
Obama made the comment to WTVD television in Raleigh, North Carolina, one of a series of interviews he conducted with regional media outlets on a day the U.S. jobless rate ticked up to 9.2 percent in June.
Obama won North Carolina in 2008 and it is likely to be a battleground state in next year’s presidential election.
“I don’t worry about my re-election prospects right now. I’ve got a year before I‘m gonna be in the middle of campaign season,” he said.
Obama defended his handling of the U.S. economy and said he wakes up every day thinking about what additional ideas could be put in place to help spur job growth.
“We’ve made progress over the last 15 months. We’ve created more than two million jobs in the private sector alone. and as a consequence of the steps we took, we saved or created three million jobs,” he said.
Obama spoke separately to Seattle’s KING television and answered a question that the reporter said was given to her by an Alaska Airlines passenger who wrote it on a napkin.
The questioner wanted to know whether, when he deals with his Republican opponents, “are you altogether too reasonable?”
Some Democrats believe Obama has been too accommodating to Republicans on some issues. Those worries have grown as the White House seeks to negotiate a debt and deficit deal with Republicans that may include slowing the growth of popular entitlement programs.
Chuckling, Obama said he has sought to tamp down the political polarization of recent years.
“Are there times where I say, ‘Boy, these folks are driving me nuts?’ Absolutely.”
“Are there times where I think that they are just trying to score some political points instead of solving problems? Absolutely.”
He said his job is not to be “goaded into a food fight.”
“There are times where I‘m pulling my hair out. You notice it’s gotten much grayer than it was,” he said.
Reporting by Caren Bohan and Steve Holland in Washington and Kevin Gray in Miami. Editing by Christopher Wilson