By Justin Sink - 02/06/12 12:52 PM EST
During an interview that aired Monday on NBC's "Today" show, President Obama said that he gets "better as time goes on" at his job and that he believes the grassroots movement that propelled him to victory in 2008 will help him win a second term.
"What's frustrated people is that I've not been able to implement every aspect of what I said in 2008. Well, it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes. But what we have been able to do is move in the right direction," Obama said.
The president defended his record, arguing that he has been successful despite his confrontations with Congress.
"We've been able to get a lot done. Not as fast as we want; sometimes it's messy; the process is frustrating," Obama said.
The president was asked to comment on Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, but he sidestepped any direct discussion of his presumptive general-election opponent. Nevertheless, Obama made subtle mention of Romney's effective tax rate. Obama has suggested raising taxes on those who make their money through investments rather than simple income.
"I do think the vast majority of the American people understand ... we want everyone to be successful, and nobody begrudges people who have been successful because they're making things, creating new products and services, that's the American way — but what people also want to see is that everybody is doing their fair share, that we're all pulling together, that we're creating ladders of opportunity for all Americans," Obama said.
"Whoever the Republican nominee is, I fundamentally disagree with the formula that would go back to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place."
Obama also sidestepped a question by NBC host Matt Lauer about whether he would pledge to meet with his eventual opponent and work to remove negative ads.
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"There's going to be just a lot of money floating around, and a bunch of that is going to be negative. But it's not going to be enough just to say the other guy's a bum," Obama said.
Obama also discussed growing tensions with Iran, insisting again that he preferred a diplomatic solution.
"I'm not going to discuss specific military programs or go into details in terms of what our planning is … we are prepared to exercise these options should the need arise. But my goal is to try to resolve this diplomatically mainly because the only way over the long them we can assure Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon is by getting them to not — understand that it's not in their interest," Obama said.
He also credited American intelligence with helping to keep tabs on the Iranian weapons program.
"I think we have a very good estimate of when they could potentially achieve breakout capacity, what stage they're at in terms of processing uranium," Obama said.
The president also described violence in Syria as "inexcusable" but said not every situation demanded American intervention, as Libya did.