President Obama insists he does not “spend time worrying” about who his Republican challenger will be in 2012, in part because the showdown between a resurgent Newt Gingrich and once-frontrunner Mitt Romney will mean an extended primary campaign.
In an interview with “60 Minutes” tonight, Obama offered his assessment of the two top GOP candidates and concluded he will prevail in a bid for a second term, whoever ends up being the nominee.
The president said Gingrich is “somebody who’s been around a long time, and is good on TV, is good in debates.” And he described Mitt Romney as “somebody who’s good at politics, as well.”
“He’s had a lot of practice at it,” Obama said of Romney. “And so, you know, I think that they will be going at it for a while.
“When the Republican Party has decided whom its nominee is going to be, then we’ll have plenty of time to worry about it,” he added.
While Obama’s attention may be elsewhere, his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee have been laser-focused on Romney, pushing a steady flow of web videos, press releases, and public statements by surrogates meant to undermine his credibility and character.
Democrats have also begun to focus on Gingrich, releasing a first web video attempting to frame the former House speaker as the “original Tea Partier” earlier today. Obama allies had previously blasted Gingrich as the “godfather of gridlock.”
The effort underscores a broad Team Obama strategy of creating stark contrasts between the president and Republicans ahead of the 2012 vote — a strategy Obama affirmed in his interview with “60 Minutes.”
“I think when it comes to election time, what the American people are going to be asked is: Does the vision I’m putting forward have a better chance of succeeding than the vision that the other side is putting forward? And it becomes a choice,” Obama said.
“And I’m very confident that the choice is one that we can win. Because I think our ideas are better. And I say that not because of personal ambition, it’s because I think that this country has to move in a direction that builds from the bottom up, an economy where everybody has a chance to succeed.”
As for the latest CBS News poll that found 54 percent of Americans believe Obama does not deserve a second term, and 75 percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, the president said he doesn’t focus on the numbers but on being persistent.
“As long as [the] unemployment rate is too high and people are feeling under the gun — day in, day out — because their bills are going up and their wages and incomes aren’t, or they’re out of a job, they’re going to feel unsatisfied. I mean, there’s no secret to this,” he said.
“So all I can worry about is making sure that every single day, the steps I’m taking, I believe, are advancing an agenda that leads to America’s success over the long term. And until you actually see results, people are going to continue to be frustrated. If the results begin to come, then I think we’ll do very well.”