President Barack Obama’s a pretty smart guy.
Coatless, the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up, microphone in hand, bottled water at the ready, he fielded questions for an hour from ordinary folk perched on picnic tables and settled into Adirondack chairs in the leafy backyard of Ohio natives Rhonda and Joe Weithman in Columbus.
Nine asked about pocketbook issues — pension plans, jobs, Social Security, the cost of healthcare and childcare. Obama sprinkled his predictable answers with personal touches like how his and wife Michelle’s student loans took 10 years to pay off and were mostly higher than their mortgage, and how the fine print in credit card statements could flummox any of us, including “a pretty smart guy” like him.
A new round of extremely violent thunderstorms rolled through Washington this morning and brought with it more stormy economic news. The latest hiccup to what President Barack Obama had hoped would be a “recovery summer” was the news that filings for unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000 in the week ended Aug. 7.
Experts had expected a drop in claims and the unwelcome surprise indicated that hiring is still weak and employers may return to cutting staff.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When it comes to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the buck stops and stops and stops with President Barack Obama.
“This is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about … my job is to get this fixed. … I take responsibility … I’m fully engaged,” he insisted near the end of his first formal, full-scale White House news conference in almost a year.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.
Toward the end of his first term, his predecessor George W. Bush famously said in answer to a question that he could not think of any mistakes he had made — a comment which long dogged him as the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to chaos in Iraq.
WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he would travel to Copenhagen next month if a climate summit is on the verge of a framework deal and his presence there will make a difference in clinching it.
It was Obama’s strongest statement yet he may go to Denmark in mid-December to help secure a new global compact in the fight against climate change, a process clouded by disputes between rich countries and big developing nations.
"If I am confident that all of the countries involved are bargaining in good faith and we are on the brink of a meaningful agreement and my presence in Copenhagen will make a difference in tipping us over edge, then certainly that’s something that I will do," Obama told Reuters in an interview.
Obama, who has faced resistance from opposition Republicans and even some fellow Democrats to setting caps on greenhouse gas emissions, acknowledged that the U.S. Senate would not pass climate change legislation before Copenhagen.
Delays in the U.S. Congress have rankled European allies and added to questions about how significant the deal that emerges from Copenhagen will ultimately be.
But Obama insisted he remained optimistic that the Dec. 7-18 summit could yield a "framework" agreement.
"I think the question is can we create a set of principles, building blocks, that allow for ongoing and continuing progress on the issue and that’s something I’m confident we can achieve," he said.
TALKS WITH CHINESE CRUCIAL
Obama made clear he considers his talks with Chinese leaders during an Asia tour later this month to be crucial in clearing remaining obstacles to some kind of accord.
"The key now is for the United States and China, the two largest emitters in the world, is to be able to come up with a framework that, along with other big emitters like the Europeans and those countries that are projected to be large emitters in the future, like India, can all buy into," he said.
"I remain optimistic that between now and Copenhagen that we can arrive at that framework," he added.
U.S. failure to present its own official target for cutting carbon emissions by the December deadline may dent confidence in its power to ever deliver, despite Obama’s strong commitment to the battle against climate change compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Seeking to assuage such concerns, Obama said: "In meeting with world leaders, I’ve repeatedly explained that America is not a speedboat. We’re a big ocean liner. And you can’t reverse course overnight."
"What we can do and what we are doing is, I think, changing the trajectory on how we approach this issue both in terms of public opinion, attitude on Capitol Hill and certainly among businesses who really understand that for America to lead on this issue ultimately will create an enormous amount of benefits," he said.