"But he is very convinced he’s going to win [in 2012]"

Last Friday, the day before his speech to the CBC, Obama hosted a private, off-the-record lunch with black commentators. The guest list included MSNBC host Al Sharpton, radio hosts Russ Parr and Michael Eric Dyson and White House reporter April Ryan, among others.

“It was an open and frank discussion,” said one of the participants, speaking under condition of anonymity since participation required confidentiality. Obama asked for their help motivating black voters because he is “very aware” that his support among them is slipping at the same time Republican opposition is growing.

“Folks are going against him and will continue to go against him,” the participant said, alluding to the president’s clashes with his African American critics as well as battles with Republicans. “But he is very convinced he’s going to win [in 2012]. That’s what I gleaned from it.”