Video Highlights: Watch President Obama's First Press Conference Since Winning 2012 Election
Read the full transcript, here.
In his opening statement, the president talked about the impending year-end deadline, saying, “I believe that both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way.”
“As I have said before, I am open to compromise and I am open to new ideas,” he continued. "And, I have been encouraged over the past week to hear Republican after Republican agree on the need for more revenue from the wealthiest Americans as part of our arithmetic if we’re going to be serious about reducing the deficit.”
The first question was about Friday’s resignation of CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus and whether the president could assure the American people that there has been no breach of national security or classified information. Petraeus resigned after admitting to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and questions have emerged about whether she had classified information in her possession.
Obama emphasized that he was going to let the FBI and Justice Department conduct their investigations before commenting on possible breaches of national security.
"We’re not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations, and that’s been our practice. … People are innocent until proven guilty and we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge,” said Obama.
President Obama was asked if closing loopholes instead of raising rates on the wealthiest Americans would satisfy him. He responded that we should look at how we can make the process of deductions and filing easier, but “When it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it which would cost close to a trillion dollars."
He continued, "This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. If there was one thing everybody understood, was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced responsible approach, and part of that included that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more. I think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate and the majority of voters agreed with me. More voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me."
The president followed up on two questions asked previously during today’s news conference. In discussing General Petraeus’ resignation, the president clarified that he is “reserving judgment” on how the investigation transpired, and why the White House wasn’t informed earlier. “We don’t have all the information yet, but I want to say that I had a lot of confidence generally in the FBI and they’ve got a difficult job. So, I am going to wait and see,” he said.
President Obama took aim at Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham today at his White House news conference. In recent days, some reports have speculated that Obama will pick U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
Rice made headlines after the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi by going on several Sunday talk shows and blaming an anti-Islam video for the situation.
Earlier today at a news conference on the Benghazi investigation, McCain and Graham said they would oppose that nomination if it is made by Obama.
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. ... But when they go after the U.N. Ambassador – apparently because they think she’s an easy target – then they’ve got a problem with me," Obama said.
After a question from Fox News Channel's Ed Henry, the president addressed his handling of the Benghazi attack, saying, “As I’ve said repeatedly, if people don’t think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don’t know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number one priority is obviously to protect American lives.”
He stressed, “I will say that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my national security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they’re safe.”
At the end of the press conference, a reporter shouted out to the president after he announced that he was finished taking questions. President Obama said, "That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out."
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Judge Napolitano: FBI Ran Amok With Petraeus’ Life and Liberties
Andy Card on Report That Sen. Kerry Is Being Considered for Secretary of Defense: He Wouldn’t Be My Choice, But President Obama Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt
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