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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

President Holds First News Conference Since Re-election

The President answered questions about the economic crisis, immigration and climate change.

President Barack Obama held his first news conference Wednesday at the White House since winning re-election.

“Right now our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis, so our top priority has to be jobs and growth,” he said. “We’ve got to build on the progress that we’ve made because this nation succeeds when we’ve got a growing, thriving middle class.”

President Barack Obama at USC in 2011.
President Barack Obama at USC in 2011.

The President re-iterated points he made in his campaign trail about ways to improve the economy and reduce the deficit; such as rewarding manufacturers and small businesses that create jobs domestically, providing Americans with the opportunity to develop the skills that businesses are looking for, and keeping the country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy.

He renewed his call for Congress to let taxes rise for top earners while protecting all others from a hike.

"We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy," Obama said.

 Ben Feller of the Associated Press asked the President if there had been any national security breaches in the recent sexual scandal involving Gen. David Patraeus, who was accused of having an extra-marital affair with author Paula Broadwell.

“I have no evidence at this point, from what I've seen, that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security,” Obama said. “Obviously, there's an ongoing investigation. I don't want to comment on the specifics of the investigation.”

He praised Gen. Patraeus for his career accomplishments and offered well-wishes to his family.

The President went on to elaborate on immigration reform and said he is “very confident” about his plans and emphasized the importance of the DREAM act.

“My expectation is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration,” he said. “One thing that I'm very clear about is that young people who are brought here through no fault of their own, who have gone to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag, who want to serve in our military, who want to go to school and contribute to our society, that they shouldn't be under the cloud of deportation, that we should give them every opportunity to earn their citizenship.”

When asked about claiming during his campaign that he would extend an invitation to Gov. Mitt Romney to work together on the nation’s problems, the President admitted he has not yet been in contact with his former opponent. He said he is giving Romney time to be with his family but believes he could be very helpful in making the federal government more “customer-friendly.” 

New York Times reporter Mark Landler asked how the President plans to address climate change during his second term. He responded saying he plans to increase his efforts to address the concern by having a “wide-ranging conversation” with scientists, engineers and elected officials.

A final question about the ongoing conflict in Syria probed the President about whether or not the United States will help arm rebel forces.

“We’re not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile,” he said. “But we do think that it is a broad-based, representative group. One of the questions that we’re going to continue to press is making sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic Syria, an inclusive Syria, a moderate Syria.”

The last time the newly re-elected president held a news conference was in June at the Group of 20 economic summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. He was met with scrutiny for only taking three questions.  

“I didn’t get re-elected just to bask in re-election,” he said. “I got elected to do work on behalf of American families and small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession but are hopeful about the future. I hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than I was in the first.”

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