Behind in Polls, Obama Predicts Close Race to Donors

By Fred Lucas | May 15, 2012 | 11:07 AM EDT

President Barack Obama visits with the crowd during his visit to the home of Val and Paul Keller, in Reno, Nev., Friday, May 11, 2012. Obama met with the Kellers who recently refinanced their home loan under a federally backed program that the President wants to expand to all homeowners who are paying their mortgages on time.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

( – Lagging in two recent polls, President Barack Obama told donors at two separate fundraising events in New York that the November election will be very close.

“I’m going to need all of you. This is going to be a tough race. It is going to be a tight race,” the president told donors at a gathering at the Rubin Museum of Art. “Nobody should be taking this for granted, especially when I come to New York sometimes people go around and say, I don't know anybody who is not supporting you, Barack. I say, you live in Manhattan, man.”

The line about Manhattan got a laugh.

“This is going to be a challenging race,” Obama added. “But we can win as long as all of you are activated, as long as all of you are motivated, as long as you’re doing everything you can – not just making phone calls, not just raising money, but I want folks out hitting the streets, knocking on doors, talking to your family, talking to your friends.”

Later that evening, Obama had a separate fundraising event at the home of Hamilton James, president of the Blackstone Group, a large private equity firm, where he repeated the assertion.

“This is going to be a tough election,” Obama said. “This is going to be a close election precisely because there are folks out there who are still hurting. But I’m pretty confident that if we work hard, if we stay true to that vision, that it’s the one that the American people believe in as well.”

A New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday shows Romney leading Obama 46-43 percent. Another Rasmussen poll released Monday shows Romney leading Obama 47-45.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has been scrutinized by conservatives for being too moderate.

However, speaking at the art museum, Obama said the 2012 race will be a much starker contrast than 2008, when he beat Arizona Sen. John McCain.

“John McCain believed in climate change and believed in immigration reform,” Obama told the donors. “On some issues, there was a sense of independence. What we’ve got this time out is a candidate who said he’d basically rubber-stamp a Republican Congress who wants us to go backwards and not forwards on a whole range of issues.”

Obama used familiar themes in the campaign, alleging Republicans want to make draconian cuts.

“One of the big arguments we’re going to have over the next four or five months is, how do we pay for stuff? And I happen to believe that it makes sense for us to make these investments, to make sure that Social Security and Medicare are still there for the next generation; to make sure that we’re not kicking poor kids and people with disabilities, and seniors who don’t have any other means off of Medicaid just to balance our budgets,” he said.