In the 25-minute interview, Obama underlined his vision and re-election campaign message about the country's path. He said he shares the Republicans' desire for fiscal restraint but stands alone in protecting the social compacts and priorities of a nation. Elaborating on his description of a Republican "pessimistic vision," he said: "It's one that says that America can no longer do some of the big things that made us great, that made us the envy of the world."
On Afghanistan, where the United States has 100,000 troops, Obama offered a somewhat aggressive assessment of the scope of the troop withdrawal that is to begin as he promised in July. The goal is to transfer responsibility to Afghan forces.
Without estimating a number of U.S. troops who will return, Obama said, "I'm confident that the withdrawal will be significant. People will say this is a real process of transition; this is not just a token gesture."
The president's stance on Libya comes as Gadhafi's troops have relentlessly attacked rebel positions as part of a deadlocked internal war sparked two months ago. The international community intervened with airstrikes a month ago, but the U.S. recently stepped back into a support role and questions abound about the mission's success.
"I'm actually very impressed with the performance of NATO so far," Obama said in rejecting any increased U.S. role.
The president himself described the conflict as a stalemate on the ground but said Gadhafi is being "squeezed."
"He's running out of money. He is running out of supplies," Obama said. "The noose is tightening, and he is becoming more and more isolated. And my expectation is, is that if we continue to apply that pressure and continue to protect civilians, which NATO is doing very capably, then I think over the long term, Gadhafi will go and we will be successful."