Obama says he always expected ‘close race’

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President Obama on Wednesday said he wasn’t surprised to find himself in a close race with GOP challenger Mitt Romney and said voters would judge him on the promises he “delivered” in his first term.

“These things go in ebbs and flows and, you know, the one thing I've tried to always be is just steady in terms of what I believe in, who I'm fighting for,” said Obama in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. “I think that one of the qualities I bring to bear in this campaign is, people see, what did I say I was going to do in 2008? And what have I delivered? And they can have some confidence that the things I say, I mean.

“We always knew this was going to be a close race from the start,” the president continued. “And what we have right now is a lead that we’ve maintained throughout the campaign and we are going to just continue to drive home the message that there are two fundamentally different choices in this election about where we take the country.”

Polls show Obama and Romney locked in a tight contest with just under two weeks until Election Day. A Gallup daily tracking survey showed Romney up 3 and an AP-Gfk poll Thursday showed the GOP nominee with a 2-point edge, but many battleground states are still a toss-up.

In his interview in Davenport, Iowa, where the president held a rally with supporters, Obama also defended his campaign’s proposals for a second-term agenda. 

The campaign released the document on Wednesday, seemingly in response to charges from the Romney team that the president had not told voters what policies he would push if reelected. Republicans, though, dismissed the Obama agenda, claiming it was short on details and provided more of the same policies they say have failed to jump-start the economy.

Obama dismissed suggestions that the agenda had been released as a last-minute move to counter Romney’s recent rise in the pols. 

“I don’t know why you say that this is late in the game,” said the president. “Every point that’s in there is what we said when I accepted the Democratic nomination, is what we do to build up the middle class in this country and it’s been on our website for weeks.

“The more informed voters are and the more engaged they are about how big the stakes are, the better I think we’re going to do,” he added.

Asked about the relationship between himself and Romney, Obama downplayed any suggestion of personal animosity.

“I don’t think anybody would say that while you were in the middle of a campaign that you felt deep affection for the other guy, because, you know, look, you’re fighting for competing visions,” he said.