Barry-O is on the cover of Rolling Stone…
Offering riffs on Mick Jagger and reflections on race, President Barack Obama is capping a week devoted to courting young votes with a Rolling Stone magazine cover interview that segues from presidential musings on politics to foreign policy to pop culture. Sounding an election-year theme, Obama tells the magazine that Mitt Romney can’t disavow the conservative views he embraced as candidate during the Republican presidential primaries. At the same time, he acknowledges that he, too, is struggling against public skepticism because of the slow economic recovery.
The interview, conducted earlier this month by Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, will appear in the issue of the magazine that hits newsstands Friday. Obama in the interview avoided characterizing Romney as a flip-flopper, a common criticism Romney faced during the Republican primary contests, and instead tagged him as a candidate who willfully embraces the Republican Party’s most conservative views.
“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,'” Obama said. “I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying.” Obama’s answer underscores an approach his advisers have been emphasizing lately, casting the race as one of sharp contrasts between two distinct candidates, parties and ideologies.
He said his own political burden is describing to Americans the progress that has occurred during his administration and how, if sustained, it could lead to economic security. “There’s understandable skepticism,” he said, “because things are still tough out there.” He said the operation to kill Osama bin Laden illustrated the “constructive relationship” he has developed with the Pentagon.
On Iraq, he said he had fulfilled his promise to end the war responsibly. “It wasn’t as fast as some people would have liked,” he said. “It was probably faster than some folks in the Pentagon would have liked.”
Reflecting on whether there had been a change in racial politics since he became president, Obama said he has never accepted the idea that his election represented a “post-racial period.” Still, he said, he often hears people remark about the importance to black children of having an African-American president and African-American first lady.
“That’s hugely important,” he added, “but you shouldn’t also underestimate the fact that there are a whole bunch of little white girls and white boys all across the country who just take it for granted that there’s an African-American president. That’s the president they’re growing up with, and that’s changing attitudes.”
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