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.
The 10th question was shouted from left field. As Obama made his way out of the Weithmans’ garden, a reporter wanted to know if he regretted inserting himself into the emotionally charged debate over whether a Muslim cultural center and mosque is built near Ground Zero in New York City.
Obama, a former constitutional law professor, spoke at length on Friday night about religious freedoms and the legal right of Muslims to build it, setting off a political firestorm and requiring a “refinement” by lunchtime on Saturday when he said he was not commenting on the wisdom of such a move.
“The answer is, no regrets,” he said today and quickly moved on.
Five words. Pretty smart.
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Obama: U.S. must tackle deficit without denting recovery
President Barack Obama said the United States must work out how to control its long-term deficit without hurting an economic recovery, which remains hobbled by a battered housing market. Obama acknowledged the deficit is worrying Americans and said cutting it would raise the public’s confidence.