US President Barack Obama dismissed suggestions on Monday that his cerebral style and exotic background made it tough for him to empathize with the economic fears of heartland Americans.
Obama's critics have frequently argued that his intellectual and academic leadership style or his upbringing in Hawaii, and for several years as a boy in Indonesia, make it hard for him to connect with everyday citizens.
"I think when the unemployment rate is still high and people are having a tough time, it doesn't matter if I was green, it doesn't matter if I was purple. I think people would still be frustrated and understandably so," Obama said in a town-hall style meeting on the economy on CNBC television.
"If you are out of work right now, the only thing you're going to be hearing is, when do I get a job? If you're about to lose your home -- all you're thinking about is, when can I get my house?"
Obama said he believed that Americans realized that he grew up in a single parent family and had financed his education, that culminated at Harvard Law school, with scholarships.
The president, who leads a Democratic Party fearing a beating over the slowly recovering economy in November's congressional elections, also denied that he was guilty of vilifying the US business community.
"In every speech, every interview that I have made, I have constantly said that what sets America apart is that we have got the most dynamic free market economy in the world and that has to be preserved," he said.
On the campaign trail to support a Democratic senatorial candidate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, later, Obama also said many critics' hopes for his administration's achievements may be unrealistically high.
Some of his Democratic critics grumble that "the health care plan (enacted) didn't have a public option," Obama said.
They also gripe that "you ended the war in Iraq but haven't completely finished the Afghan war yet," Obama went on.
But "I say, 'folks wake up! This is not some academic exercise. As (Vice President) Joe Biden put it, Don't compare us to the Almighty, compare us to the alternative," Obama pleaded.
All 435 House seats are up for grabs along with 37 of the 100 Senate seats in the November 2 election.
Several key analysts believe Republicans are in reach of winning the 39 seats they need to capture the House but are less likely to snatch the Senate.