Highlights of Obama's Prime-Time Press Conference

In his first prime-time news conference as president, Barack
Obama opened with a seven-minute pitch for his economic-stimulus
program, then took 13 questions spanning another 51 minutes.
Highlights:
-Economy. Obama pressured lawmakers to urgently approve a
massive recovery bill to jump-start the economy: "If there's
anyone out there who still doesn't believe this constitutes a
full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of
Americans whose lives have been turned upside-down because they
don't know where their next paycheck is coming from."
-Bipartisanship: Obama said he hopes his overtures to
Republicans will pay off in the long term, and he will keep
engaging the other party. But he criticized Republicans who have
balked at the legislation and said some of his critics have little
credibility after presiding over a doubling of the national debt.
He said when he hears criticism of pork in the emerging
legislation, "then you get a feeling that maybe we're playing
politics instead of actually trying to solve problems for the
American people."
-Bailout. Obama refused to discuss in detail plans for the next
$350 billion in bailout money for the financial sector, saying
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would do so on Tuesday. While
many economists believe much more money will be needed, Obama would
not acknowledge that, saying: "We don't know yet whether we're
going to need additional money or how much additional money we'll
need until we've seen how successful we are at restoring a sense of
confidence in the marketplace."
-Afghanistan: Obama would not put a timetable on how long troops
would be there, though deployment of U.S. troops is expected to
double to 60,000. He said the U.S. is in for challenging times. "I
do not have a timetable for how long that's going to take," Obama
said. "What I know is I'm not going to allow al-Qaida and (Osama)
bin Laden to operate with impunity, planning attacks on the U.S.
homeland."
-Iran: Obama said his national security team is reviewing ways
that the U.S - in a break from George W. Bush era policy - can
"directly engage" with Iran. He said in the coming months, "we
will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start
sitting across the table, face-to-face diplomatic overtures, that
will allow us to move our policy in a new direction." But he also
warned that Iran must understand the U.S. won't tolerate Iran's
funding of terrorist organizations or its pursuit of a nuclear
weapon. "Now it's time for Iran to send some signals that it wants
to act differently," he said.
-A-Rod: Obama said it was depressing that baseball superstar
Alex Rodriguez admitted that he used steroids when he was with his
former team, the Texas Rangers. Said Obama: "I think it's
depressing news on top of what's been a flurry of depressing items
when it comes to Major League Baseball. And if you're a fan of
Major League Baseball, I think it tarnishes an entire era, to some
degree."


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