On terrorism, the president declined to guarantee that the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terrorist suspects would close during his presidency. He had once promised to shut the Navy-run facility in Cuba within a year of taking over the job.
He conceded he does not have the support of Congress on that issue and has not been able to overcome fears of bringing some detainees into the United States for trial. "It's my job to give people some assurance that we can handle this effectively, and obviously I haven't been able to make the case right now," he said. "That doesn't mean I stop making the case."
To win a second term, Obama must convince a nation still saddled with high joblessness and a fragile economic recovery that he has overseen a period of progress — and that more is on the way. Obama said he's got a record he can sell: Wall Street regulation, a health care insurance overhaul and efforts to make college more affordable.
"I think I'm going to be able to make an effective case," he said. The president said that it has been under his watch that the country went from a staggering recession into steady progress and that "I have been able to yank this economy out of that hole and get it back on a track to growth."
The 2012 presidential race is the first in which the tea party coalition, which decries the growth of government and assails much of the Obama presidency, will play a major role. The president took an upbeat role of such a movement: "Anytime the American people are actively engaged in the political process, it's good."