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Obama says he deserves re-election

By James Oliphant, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Sunday that he deserves a second term despite suggesting in a similar interview three years ago that if he didn’t turn around the economy in three years, his presidency was going to be a “one-term proposition.’

“We’ve made progress,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. “The key right now is to just make sure we don’t start turning in a new direction that could throw that progress off.”

Obama has made a Super Bowl pregame interview an annual tradition. Last year, he sat down with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. Lauer, the co-host of NBC’s “Today” show, also interviewed Obama three years ago, shortly after he was sworn into office.

“I’ve got four years,” the new president told Lauer then. “A year from now I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress, but there’s going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, than this is going to be a one-term proposition.”

Romney and other Republicans have used Obama’s remarks to argue that the president hasn’t met his own criteria for reelection.

Obama doesn’t agree. “I deserve a second term,” he said. “But we’re not done.”

The timing of the interview was fortuitous, however, for the president. His administration received a surprisingly robust jobs report Friday, allowing Obama to claim significant progress on the economic front before a Super Bowl pregame audience.

Lauer also pressed Obama on Iran, with the president reiterating that he hopes to secure a diplomatic solution to the growing conflict over the country’s nuclear ambitions rather than a military confrontation, but he said, “No option is off the table.”

Asked about Israel’s intentions to intervene, the president said he believed the Israeli government has not decided whether to attack Iran. “They, like us, believe Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program,” he said, sidestepping a question about whether the U.S. would be told in advance of such a raid.

Obama said his administration was not anticipating Iranian attacks on American soil.

“We don’t see any evidence that they have those intentions or capabilities right now,” he said.

The rest of Lauer’s interview with Obama will be aired Monday.

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