(CBS News) -- President Obama is quite comfortable being the "underdog" and is happy to run against his eventual Republican opponent as if he were behind, a top adviser to the president's re-election campaign said Thursday.
"I think it is going to be a close election and we want to make sure all of our supporters are very engaged," Robert Gibbs, the former White House spokesman who is now a top adviser on the Obama campaign, said in an interview with CBS This Morning.
"I think the president is quite comfortable being the underdog," Gibbs told host Charlie Rose, "I think he is happy to run this race as if he were behind the whole time."
Mr. Obama's approval rating plunged to 41 percent in a, his lowest level since he has been in office. About 47 percent disapproved of his job performance.
The president had hit the critical 50 percent mark just a month earlier.
Asked why the president is not doing better as the economy improves, Gibbs said the country has "been through a lot."
"The president understands and the team understands we've got a long way to go," he said, adding "we've got to ... rebuild this economy and really give the middle class in this country a belief that there is some genuine security in their economic futures"
The U.S. unemployment rate held steady at a three-year low of 8.3 percent in February as the economy added 227,000 jobs in the month.