Obama Talks Politics, Pop Culture With Rolling Stone

(Image Credit: Rolling Stone/AP Photo)

After a week of interviews and speeches aimed at courting young voters, President Obama has taken his message to the cover of Rolling Stone.

In a wide-ranging interview that hits newsstands Friday, the president talks about everything from election-year politics to foreign policy to Mick Jagger.

With the general election fight under way, Obama stays largely on message and refuses to take any direct stabs at presumed  GOP nominee Mitt Romney but makes it clear his Republican rival will not be able to avoid the positions he's been promoting on the campaign trail.

"I don't think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, 'Everything I've said for the last six months, I didn't mean.' I'm assuming that he meant it. When you're running for president, people are paying attention to what you're saying," he tells Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner.

Heading into November, the president says his burden is to explain how his administration's policies will give Americans the economic security they  are looking for.

"There's understandable skepticism, because things are still tough out there," Obama says. "The fact of the matter is that times are still tough for too many people, and the recovery is still not as robust as we'd like, and that's what will make it a close election. It's not because the other side has a particularly persuasive theory in terms of how they're going to move this country forward."

Moving on to pop culture, the president dishes about hanging out with singer Mick Jagger and explains why he thinks "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart is "brilliant."

"It's amazing to me the degree to which he's able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense, for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do," says the president, who admits to not watching a lot of TV.

"When it comes to rocking 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama recalls spending 45 minutes watching Jagger rehearse for his White House concert in February and how  impressed he was with the respect the rock legend showed for the younger musicians around him. "It was great fun, just watching them work through stuff. And he had unbelievable energy. I tell you, that guy, when he performed the next night, he was as energized as he's ever been."

The president is  also far from modest about his own vocal skills. "I can sing. I wasn't worried about being able to hit those notes," he says of  his now  famous rendition of the Al Green classic "Let's Stay Together" at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. "The only problem with my Apollo performance is that everywhere I go now, somebody wants me to sing. My whole point is that the fewer the performances, the higher the ticket price, so you don't want to overdo it," he says.

The president's Rolling Stone interview caps a week of outreach to young voters that included a stop by NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and visits to college campuses in three critical battleground states.