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Obama visits Ohio, defends healthcare agenda

In a stop reminiscent of his campaign trips through the battleground state, he admits his agenda has 'hit a little bit of a buzz saw along the way.'

January 23, 2010|By Mark Silva
  • The president made an unscheduled stop in Elyria, Ohio, as he admitted his agenda had "hit a little bit of a buzz saw along the way."
The president made an unscheduled stop in Elyria, Ohio, as he admitted his… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)

Reporting from Washington — President Obama, admitting that his agenda had run into a "buzz saw" in Washington, traveled Friday to the election battleground state of Ohio to make his pitch for reviving the economy and overhauling healthcare.

"We've gotten pretty far down the road," an animated president said of his legislative priorities, which appear to be threatened following this week's special election in Massachusetts that cost his party its filibuster-proof hold on the Senate.

But "we hit a little bit of a buzz saw along the way," Obama said. "This is what happens in Congress. It's just an ugly process. . . . The longer it takes, the uglier it looks."

Stopping in Elyria for a hamburger lunch, a meeting with factory workers and a town hall at a community college, the president pledged to continue his healthcare fight.

"When I took this on . . . I had a whole bunch of political advisors telling me this may not be the smartest thing to do," because so many problems needed immediate attention, Obama said. But, he added, healthcare "is part of the drag on our economy."

"I know folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy this week, trying to figure out what the election in Massachusetts the other day means," the president said, wearing an open-collared shirt that evoked his days on the campaign trail. "But this is not about me. This is about you.

"I didn't take this up to boost my poll numbers," he said. "There are some people who think, 'If Obama loses, we all win.' But you know what? I think I win when you win."

Ohio, which has voted for the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1964, saw unemployment climb to 10.9% last month. Obama carried the state in 2008 by 4 percentage points.

On Thursday, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden plan to visit the Tampa, Fla., area.

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