Reporters record President Obama, shown on the screen of a laptop computer,… (Joshua Roberts / Pool Photo )
Reporting from Johnston, Iowa — Speaking to 250 Democratic caucus sites across Iowa Tuesday night, President Obama said he has kept many of his campaign promises but needs more time to fulfill the rest.
"The problems that we've been dealing with over the last three years didn't happen overnight, and we're not going to fix them overnight," Obama said in a live videoconference designed to make sure he wasn't forgotten on a night when Republicans soaked up most of the attention.
Obama spoke as the caucuses were getting underway. The outcome on the Democratic side was never in doubt. But Iowa looks to be a swing state in the 2012 election, and the Obama campaign wanted to motivate Democrats for the general election contest.
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After brief remarks, Obama took two questions from caucus goers. Roseann Cook from Coralville asked if he still believed in "hope and change in America" – the anthem of his successful 2008 campaign. The question underscored a problem for the Obama campaign team: some of the excitement that voters felt in electing Obama in 2008 has dissipated.
"I'm actually more optimistic now than I was when we first ran, because we've already seen change take place," Obama said. "Part of what 2012 is about is about reminding the American people how far we've traveled, and the concrete effects that some of our work has had." He cited the end of the war in Iraq, passage of a healthcare overhaul and tougher regulation of the financial sector.
At one point, the 20-minute event was interrupted by a technical glitch that delayed the video feed. The audience at the caucus site here, several hundred people at a local high school, chuckled nervously, waiting for the president's address to resume.
A woman from Cedar Rapids asked him how he would respond to critics who argue he hasn't accomplished enough as president.
Obama said that his message in 2012 is that "we've done a lot, but we've got a lot more work to do."
Obama, who returned from a vacation in Hawaii early in the day, spoke to the caucus-goers from a hotel in Washington, D.C., leaving the White House grounds because the event was devoted to his reelection, not official business.
Nicholas reported from Washington; Pearce from Johnston, Iowa.