"Now's the time when people start making up their minds, and I think there are very clear distinctions, you know, between myself and Senator (Hillary) Clinton," said Obama. "You know, I believe in not only bringing this war to a close, but changing our mind set when it comes to foreign policy."
Obama dismissed the importance of national polls that say Clinton is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
"If I believed in polls, then five years ago, I would have backed the war in Iraq like she did, because, you know, George Bush was very popular, and the war in Iraq was perceived as the smart political play," he said.
He also discussed the expectations for his candidacy.
"I burst onto the national scene primarily as a consequence of that convention speech in 2004," he said. "And I think that in some ways, people set this expectation that every time I speak, I'm going to make you cry." He said in the final months of the campaign, his focus is shifting to "trying to grab them a little more in the heart and not just the head."
Smith asked Obama if he feared for his safety in light of the fact that he could be the first black president in United States history. Does he think about that one person out there who thinks, "not in my lifetime, not in this United States?"
"You know, it's not something I spend a lot of time thinking about," said Obama. "What I spend most of my time thinking about is people who are at much greater risk than me right now. For example, those troops in Iraq, the likelihood of them getting killed is a lot higher than mine. And, you know, my job is to try to figure out how to create a better foreign policy so that we can start bringing them home."