Sharpening his argument for a second term, President Obama tonight told groups of campaign donors in New York that he is responsible for restoring a "sense of America as the sole, indispensable power" in the world.
Obama said that U.S. leadership in the international community had been on the decline when he took office in 2009 but that his foreign policy - including ending the war in Iraq, refocusing the war in Afghanistan and renewing U.S. commitment to international alliances - turned the dynamic around.
"What we were also able to do, I think, is to restore a sense of America as the sole, indispensable power," Obama said, "a country that, whether it's responding to an earthquake or a tsunami, or it's dealing with a dictator that is about to ruthlessly butcher his people, we aren't out there alone.
"We're able to mobilize around a set of values and a set of principles, and ensure that the international rules of the road are followed," he said, alluding to the crisis with Iran over its clandestine nuclear program.
"When I came into office, Iran was united and the world was divided. And now what we have is a united international community that is saying to Iran, you've got to change your ways."
Obama made the comments at an exclusive $5,000 per person fundraiser at a Manhattan restaurant that featured a predominantly Jewish crowd, according to a campaign official.
Obama later told supporters at a separate event in the same restaurant that the election will be about preserving his global achievement so that "people everywhere continue to see America as the one indispensable nation in assuring that there's an international order that thinks about everybody, and not just thinks in terms of raw power.
"So this is a big deal, this race," Obama said.
Republican critics - including GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney - have been harshly critical of Obama's foreign policy. Romney has called Obama "timid, indecisive and nuanced" in his approach, particularly with respect to Iran.
Obama responded to the criticism in an interview with Time magazine released earlier today, insisting the attacks will wither under scrutiny in a general election matchup.
"I think Mr. Romney and the rest of the Republican field are going to be playing to their base until the primary season is over," Obama told Time's Fareed Zakaria.
"I think it's going to be pretty hard to argue that we have not executed a strategy over the last three years that has put America in a stronger position than it was when we, than when I came into office," he said.