By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama denied on Sunday that he moved to the political center after his Democrats were routed in congressional elections last November, insisting, "I'm the same guy."
Most political analysts say Obama has moved to a more centrist position in the wake of the elections -- Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and made gains in the Senate -- as he prepares to seek re-election in 2012.
And they point to his decision to agree to a compromise with Republicans that extended tax cuts for all Americans, even the wealthy.
He has also declared himself much more willing to listen to his political opponents, including a meeting last week with Republican Senator John McCain, who he defeated in 2008 for the presidency.
In an interview with Fox News' conservative commentator, Bill O'Reilly, Obama said he has not made a political shift.
"I'm the same guy," Obama said. "My practical focus, my common-sense focus right now is how do we out-innovate, out-educate, out-build, out-compete the rest of the world?"
When pressed on whether he was committed to a liberal goal of income redistribution, Obama said he "absolutely" denied such a charge.
"I didn't raise taxes once, I lowered taxes over the last two years," he said.
Obama also said he believed his healthcare overhaul, which was passed last year by Congress, will ultimately be ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court despite, for example, a Florida federal judge's ruling against it recently.
At issue is the healthcare law's requirement that all Americans buy health insurance.
"Well, I think the judge in Florida was wrong. Keep in mind that we've had 12 judges ... that just threw this case out, the notion that the healthcare law was unconstitutional," Obama said.
Asked what the worst part of being president is, Obama had a ready reply as he prepared to enjoy a Super Bowl party at the White House with a guest list that included celebrity Jennifer Lopez.
"Worst part of the job is, first of all, I've got a jacket on on Super Bowl Sunday," Obama said, referring to the National League Football championship game.
He said the biggest problem is being in the White House protective "bubble" that is hard to escape.
"Over time, you know, what happens is you feel like -- that you're not able to just have a spontaneous conversation with folks," he said.
Obama said "there's no doubt that the weight of the office has an impact" on him but he enjoys the job.
"The longer I'm in this job, the more I enjoy it, the more optimistic I am about the American people, the more optimistic I am about this country," he said.
(Editing by Paul Simao)