"I'm the person who is best prepared for us to finish the job so that we're on track to succeed in the 21st century," Obama said. That's the heart of his argument for voters to give him a second term over more than a half dozen Republicans seeking the White House.
As the 2012 campaign gets under way, it's being shaped by a deep disagreement over federal spending in Washington between Republicans who control the House and Democrats in power in the Senate and White House. Obama and Republicans compromised a week ago on a spending bill to avert a government shutdown, a preview of the debate that's certain to dominate the coming months on deficits and the ceiling on money the nation can borrow.
The president said that he doesn't expect either side to get everything it wants in negotiations and that he's pushing for "a smart compromise that's serious."
He warned of dire consequences if the debt ceiling is not raised before it hits its limit of $14.3 trillion; the administration says the latest Congress could possibly act is by early July. But Obama said some longer-term questions about where the government trims its operations will have to be left until after the 2012 presidential election.
"I'm confident that the withdrawal will be significant," he said. "People will say this is a real process of transition, this is not just a token gesture."
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