WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday he was "absolutely" the underdog as he embarks on a tough reelection fight in 2012 but promised he was steeling for a fight over "values and vision" with Republicans.

The president also admitted that Americans were "not better off" now than they were four years ago, an admission of the tough political conditions clouding his bid for a second White House term.

In an interview with ABC News and Yahoo!, Obama was confronted with a poll showing 55 percent of those asked thought he would be a one-term president, and he conceded the sickly economy complicated his political prospects.

Downplaying expectations for his campaign and asked whether he would be an underdog when faced with a Republican rival next year, Obama said "absolutely."

"Given the economy, there is no doubt that whatever happens on your watch ... I don't mind, I am used to being an underdog."

But Obama, who is in a close fight with both leading Republican candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney in national matchup polls, argued that American voters would be offered a clear choice next year.

"At the end of the day, though, what people are going to say is, who has got a vision for the future that can actually help ordinary families recapture that American dream," he said.

"There is going to be a contest of values and vision in 2012. Nobody is going to deny that we are not where we need to be," he said, in a reference to the economy and high unemployment.

Earlier, the Obama reelection campaign charted its vision for the shape of the 2012 campaign, arguing that candidates for the Republican nomination were simply interested in pleasing the ultra-conservative "Tea Party."

"While the President is fighting to create jobs and put money in the pockets of middle class Americans, the Republican candidates have proposed extending tax breaks for large corporations and tax cuts for the wealthiest while allowing special interests to write their own rules," the memo said.

The campaign argued that Republicans were also out of step with mainstream Americans on issues like immigration, banking reform, tax, healthcare, economic regulation and education.