The voters, Obama said, want to make sure that middle-class folks arent bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges. They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and thats going to be my guiding principle during these negotiations, but more importantly during the next four years of my administration.
Yet he stopped short of declaring a sweeping mandate, noting that he was more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms.
He said he was very cautious about overreaching, but added, I didnt get re-elected just to bask in re-election. 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.
He offered praise for his vanquished Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, saying he hoped to sit down with him to talk about working together.
Therere certain aspects of Gov. Romneys record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful, Obama said, citing Romneys tenure running the Olympics.
He also hotly defended U.N. Ambassador Rice, whom Republican senators have vowed to block if shes nominated to succeed Clinton. Republicans have been critical of her performance on television in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, but Obama praised what he called exemplary work and said Rice had appeared on television at the White Houses request and given her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.
Obama has called for a balance of tax increases and spending cuts to slash the deficit, but he offered no specifics on spending reductions other than to say he thinks the United States needs to take a serious look at entitlements, noting that health care costs represent the biggest driver of our deficits.
He left the lectern after cutting off a reporter who asked a question about how hed cut $1.2 trillion in spending.
That was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out, he said.