In an interview with ABC News' Jake Tapper, Obama said he and other leaders need to let those associated with both movements know that "we understand their struggles and we are on their side.
Photos: Obama's first 1,000 days
The comparison of the tea party movement with Occupy Wall Street is one that the former has rejected. Vice President Joe Biden has also tied the two.
"What is the core of that protest, and why is it increasing in terms of the people it's attracting? The core is that the bargain has been breached with the American people," Biden said at a forum in Washington on Oct. 6.
In the ABC interview, Obama said he understood the frustration.
"In some ways, they're not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the tea party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them," he said.
The interview came during the president's three-day bus tour, in which he's selling his jobs program that will now be moved to Congress on a piecemeal basis.
Obama also defended the 2009 stimulus program, saying it "made a difference."