President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited ABC's "The View" — a clear pitch to women voters — in New York the day before the president addresses the U.N. General Assembly.
In the interview, a mix of policy, politics and personal tidbits airing Tuesday, Obama said "there's no doubt" that the assault of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador "wasn't just a mob action" but a sign of extremism in nations lacking stability. His words about the Libya killings were his most specific since the White House called it a "terrorist attack" last week.
"What's been interesting, just this past week, there were these massive protests against these extremists militias that are suspected, maybe, of having been involved in this attack," Obama said during the taping of his interview on the talk show.
The White House initially said the storming of the consulate attack was a spontaneous assault tied to ongoing protests over a video that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad, but has since broadened its answer to say an investigation will show what ultimately happened.
Asked if a Mitt Romney presidency would be a disaster, Obama hardly disagreed with the sentiment, replying that the nation can "survive a lot." He added: "The American people don't want to just survive, we want to thrive."
Obama pointed to Romney's assertion that it is fair for a person with a $50,000-a-year income to pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than someone who makes millions from investments. Romney said a low capital gains tax rate encourages economic growth and encourages people to invest.
"I've just got a different vision about how we grow our economy," Obama said, adding that such growth is faster when the middle class is doing well.
Discussing the stresses of the presidency, the first lady described her husband as having an even temperament. "He doesn't have emotional shifts; he's very steady," she said. "I'm one of the few people who can really make him mad."
Asked how, Obama joked: "By being thoroughly unreasonable."
In recalling his hardest day of the last four years, Obama cited the August 2011 downing of a Chinook helicopter by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan that killed 30 American troops. Obama later flew to Dover, Del., to pay tribute to the troops.
"It's very raw in those moments and it reminds you that freedom's not free and these families are taking enormous strain and ours troops are making enormous sacrifices," Obama said.
Asked what they will be doing in about five years, Michelle Obama said, "go on a long vacation," adding that she wants to retrace the couple's honeymoon route along California's scenic Route 1.
The president at first objected, saying there is still an election ahead, with a whole set of goals he wants to accomplish in a second term. After the presidency, Obama said, he expects to spend time working with kids.
"I love teaching. I miss teaching," he said. Still, the former law school professor said he is not sure he will return to the classroom.
Instead, he may explore the idea of going around to cities, creating mentorships and "giving young people" a sense of opportunity and possibility, Obama said.
An avid basketball player and occasional coach to his two daughters, Obama was asked what was harder, coaching girls or getting Congress to work.
"No contest," he replied. "The girls? They play like a team."