President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks in the White House briefing room on April 17, 2014, in Washington.

Obama on Foreign-Policy Tightrope

Americans want a strong president but little foreign involvement.

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks in the White House briefing room on April 17, 2014, in Washington.

President Barack Obama walks a difficult line as he deals with Syria, Ukraine and other hot spots around the world, a Democratic pollster says.

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President Barack Obama is walking a tightrope as he deals with trouble spots around the world such as Ukraine and Syria, says a prominent Democratic pollster.

Americans "want our president to be strong in standing up for American interests,"' Geoff Garin says. "But they don't want America to be deeply involved or deeply engaged, and it's a challenge to find the right balance."

[READ: Pollster: Dems Need to Be Careful About Deserting Obama]

Garin told me, "There aren't a lot of foreign policy interests where people are paying attention," but he adds that "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has struck a chord with the public, obviously in a negative way."

Putin's government in Russia and pro-Russia fighters are immersed in a confrontation with the government of Ukraine that is getting increasingly violent. Russia has already annexed the Crimea portion of Ukraine, prompting sanctions by the United States and its allies.

Still, Garin says, Americans "are not following the ins and outs of what's going on in Ukraine, or in Syria for that matter." But regardless of whether he gets political credit for it, Garin adds, "The president is obligated to devote attention to the variety of hot spots and potential hot spots in the world."