‘Ready for the Fight’: Rolling Stone Interview with President Obama

President Barack Obama framed the 2012 election in some of the starkest terms to date in an interview published Wednesday by 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. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/The White House

Barack Obama’s interview to Rolling Stone, conducted earlier this month by Jann Wenner, will appear in the issue of the magazine that hits newsstands Friday.

President Barack Obama said in the interview that he hopes American voters will “break the fever” gripping today’s Republicans and that he felt no stage fright whatsoever when he sang Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo Theater in January, reports ABC News.

Obama told the magazine that Mitt Romney can’t disavow the conservative views he embraced as candidate during the Republican presidential primaries.

“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.’ I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying,” Obama said.

The notion that Romney would shift to the middle in the campaign was most famously espoused by his top adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, who said that Romney’s positions in the primary were as erasable as a drawing on an Etch a Sketch, tells The Huff Post.

“I think the general election will be as sharp a contrast between the two parties as we’ve seen in a generation.” Obama, branding his critics “far out of the mainstream.”

He added: “My hope is that if the American people send a message to them that’s consistent with the fact that Congress is polling at 13 percent right now, and they suffer some losses in this next election, that there’s going to be some self-reflection going on—that it might break the fever.”

“They might say to themselves, ‘You know what, we’ve lost our way here. We need to refocus on trying to get things done for the American people,'” he added.

When asked whether there had been a change in racial politics since he became president, Mr. Obama said he has never accepted the idea that his election represented a “post-racial period.”

President Barack Obama on the cover of 'Rolling Stone' magazine. Photo: Mark Seliger/Rolling Stone

Still, he said, according to CBS News, 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,” Obama 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.”

When asked about efforts to combat climate change, Mr. Obama defended his record and then pledged to bring the issue to the fore in the 2012 race.

“I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. That there’s a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation,” he said.

President Obama seemed to bristle when asked whether he would support gay marriage. He has yet to do so formally, despite pledging not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I’m not going to make news in this publication,” he said, insisting that “we’re going to keep on working in very practical ways to make sure that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters are treated as what they are—full-fledged members of the American family.”

No interview with Rolling Stone is complete without cultural touchstones. Barack Obama recalled watching singer Mick Jagger rehearse for his appearance during a February White House tribute to the blues and was impressed by the respect the Rolling Stones frontman displayed toward lesser-known and younger musicians.

As for his own pop talents, the president was matter-of-fact about his two acclaimed though abbreviated moments of public singing — once at the Apollo Theater in New York and the other at a blues tribute at the White House. “I can sing,” he said confidently. “I wasn’t worried about being able to hit those notes.”

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