Tapper: I’m not asking if you’re worried about it. I’m asking if you’re thinking about it.

Obama: I guess what I’m saying is I saw in my own presidential race, and I’ve seen enough presidential races that people are surprised that it doesn’t make sense for me to prognosticate on what I think is going to happen on their side. They’re going to go through a process. There are going to be a lot of ups and downs. We’ve already seen people who get enormous attention suddenly go by the wayside. Somebody else will be lifted up. They’ll go through the process and sometime next year they’ll have a nominee.

What I am certain of, though, is that there’s going to be a very clear contrast between whoever they nominate and their vision of where we should take the country and where I believe we should take the country. I think that on a whole host of issues, whether it’s Wall Street reform, whether it’s that we’re investing in education or rebuilding our infrastructure, whether it’s how we approach reducing our deficit. Are we going to do it in a balanced way or are we going to do it on the backs of our seniors or the middle class or the poor? On a whole range of these issues, there’s going to be a clear choice for the American people to make.

I guarantee it’s going to be a close election because the economy is not where it wants to be and even though I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones, we’re still going through difficult circumstances. That means people who may be sympathetic to my point of view still kind of feel like, yeah, but it still hasn’t gotten done yet. This is going to be a close election and a very important one for the American people. The thing I hope the most is that everyone is going to be paying close attention to the debate that takes place because it could determine not just what happens over the next four years, but what’ll happen over the next 20 or 30 years.

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