Confident Man: President Obama Sheds ‘Underdog’ Status

Mar 12, 2012 4:33pm
ap Barack Obama New Jersey jt 110904 wblog Confident Man: President Obama Sheds Underdog Status

(Image Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo)

When it comes to the fight to keep his job, President Obama doesn’t appear fazed by the specter of rising gas prices, an increasingly treacherous war in Afghanistan, or biting attacks from his Republican opponents.

Instead, as Obama has been unambiguously telling Americans, he’s got a lock on a second term in the White House.

“We’ve gotten a lot of stuff done over these last three and a half years,” Obama told donors in Houston Friday night. “But I’d say I’ve got about five more years to finish the job.”

Obama’s resurgent confidence about his re-election prospects has been evident in an array of speeches and interviews over the past few weeks, not limited to rhetoric from his typical fundraising stump.

“I’ve got another five years,” Obama told the Spanish-language radio network Univision in an interview that aired Feb. 23.  “We’re going to get this done,” he said of comprehensive immigration reform.

A few days later, in a fiery official speech before the United Auto Workers conference in Washington, Obama said he would buy and drive a Chevy Volt — “five years from now, when I’m not president anymore.”

Obama even told ESPN’s  Bill Simmons that during his next term he’ll welcome the NBA’s Chicago Bulls to the White House to celebrate a championship.

“It hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen,” Obama said.

“It will happen? You’re like [former New York Jets quarterback] Joe Namath — you’re guaranteeing it,” Simmons said.

“Well, I’ve got another five years here and somewhere along the line my Bulls are going to come through here,” Obama said. “Absolutely.”

The added swagger in Obama’s step over the past few weeks follows a burst of positive economic news and a series of GOP primary fights over social issues that have helped galvanize the Democratic base.

A majority of Americans — 54 percent — now share his view that he will win a second term, according to the new ABC News/Washington Post poll. Just 40 percent expect the Republican candidate will win in November.

The outlook comes in stark contrast to Obama’s comment just five months ago that he’s an “underdog” in the 2012 race.

“I’m used to being the underdog,” he told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in October. “But at the end of the day people are going to ask — who’s got a vision?”

His job approval rating at the time was around 40 percent in Gallup polling; now it’s 49 percent.

Still, there are plenty of signs that the president hardly has re-election in the bag.

Obama is locked in a statistical dead heat with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, 47 to 49 percent, in a hypothetical general election match-up  in the ABC/Post poll.

And Americans say they are increasingly dissatisfied with Obama’s handling of the economy and rising gas prices: 59 percent disapprove of Obama on the economy while 65 percent disapprove on gas prices, according to the poll.

“He may be confident, but after President Obama led our country to record debt, government spending and tax increases, the American people have very little confidence he can turn our country around with another five years,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

For their part, Obama’s top campaign aides are less sanguine than their boss about the months ahead, telling reporters repeatedly that they believe the race will be extremely close.

“We certainly take nothing for granted,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said on a conference call with reporters last week. “We think it’s going to be a close and competitive election, given the historic challenges the president faced.”

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