Obama said the main message he took from last week's election results – with Republicans winning gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia – was that Americans are "nervous, and they're worried and they're anxious."
"I don't think there's any denying the fact that people are worried out there," he said.
Obama said Democrat Bill Owens' victory in the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, the one bright spot for the president's party last Tuesday, "sent an important signal."
"Bill Owens, the Democrat in a traditionally Republican district, a district that had been Republican for 100 years, did not shy away from saying he supported health insurance reform, that he supported the Recovery Act and the progress that we have made there, and ended up winning," Obama said.
Obama is also under increasing pressure to do more for the economy. The nation's unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent in October, the highest rate since 1983. The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report, released last Friday, was worse than expected, showing employers shed 190,000 jobs last month.
The president said today that the "main message" he took from last week's elections – in which Democrats won two House seats and Republicans won two gubernatorial races – "is that the American people are looking at over 10 percent unemployment and they're nervous and they're worried and they're anxious. And they want to make sure that the people here in Washington are fighting for them.
"I don't think there's any denying the fact that people are worried out there," he said. "And, you know, what I've said to fellow Democrats is let's get the job done on the health care bill that is so important to this country's long-term well-being, we can look back at the end of this year and I think we'll be able to legitimately say that we have had the most productive legislative session at least since 1965."
Said the president, "People have to be convinced that we understand the problem and that we're working on it. And if we do those things, then I think the American people will feel like we have been good and responsible stewards for an economy during some very difficult times."
The president was asked if independent voters who supported him in 2008 but overwhelmingly voted Republican in New jersey and Virginia were convinced he was fighting for them and working to create jobs.
"I think that they are convinced that I am doing everything I can," he said. "But they want to see results. And if they are not seeing results on the jobs front, which is the thing that people feel most acutely, most immediately -- their neighbors, their friends, themselves seeing their hours cut or their -- their jobs at risk, then, you know, they're going to hold me -- rightly -- responsible. And they're going to hold Congress appropriately responsible, and they're going to hold their respective governors responsible."