WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama said rival Hillary Clinton must feel like she's "doing him a favor" by attacking him the way she has been in recent weeks because, according to Obama, it will only make him stronger in a general election against Republican John McCain.
"I have tried to figure out how to show restraint and make sure that during this primary contest we're not damaging each other so badly that its hard for us to run in November," Obama said at The Associated Press annual conference.
"Sen. Clinton may not feel that she can afford to be as constrained," he said, "but I’m sure that Sen. Clinton feels like she's doing me a favor because she's been deploying most of the arguments the Republican Party will be using against me in November and so it's toughening me up. I'm getting run through the paces here."
Obama's comments came in response to a question on whether he felt Clinton should drop out. He deflected by saying he suspects Clinton will have her own answer for that when she addresses the same group on Tuesday.
The Illinois senator also included in his response a backhanded compliment, calling Clinton "unique" for having raised $35 million and remaining in the race all while "sustaining 11 straight losses."